The number of taxpayers that were victims of identity theft fell for the third consecutive year, with the number dropping 71% in 2018, according to the Internal Revenue Service’s just-released 2019 progress update.
In 2018, the IRS received 199,000 identity theft affidavits from taxpayers compared with 677,000 in 2015.
The number of confirmed identity theft returns stopped by the IRS declined by 54%, falling from 1.4 million in 2015 to 649,000 in 2018.
“Working in concert with state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry,” the IRS “developed a comprehensive and aggressive identity theft strategy that has resulted in significant inroads against stolen identity refund fraud,” an agency spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor in a Monday email.
“Because of this focus, the IRS’s key indicators of identity theft on tax returns have dropped significantly. Working together as the Security Summit since 2015, the IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry have made significant progress against identity theft each year, but no one is declaring victory. Tax-related identity theft remains a threat, and everyone must be vigilant about protecting their personal information,” the spokesperson said.
Suspicious refunds recovered declined by 66%, the report said.
In 2018, financial institutions recovered 84,000 federal refunds totaling $112 million for the IRS. By comparison, institutions recovered 249,000 refunds totaling $852 million in 2015.
As to criminal investigations, during fiscal 2019, IRS investigators completed 2,797 investigations and achieved 1,735 convictions with a conviction rate of 91.2% as well as a Department of Justice case acceptance rate of 93%; U.S. Attorney case acceptance rate hit 88.5%, which compares favorably with other federal law enforcement agencies, the report states.