House approves Renacci bill to protect taxpayers from identity theft

The House of Representatives approved legislation on Monday that was introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) to curb and respond to tax-related identity theft.

The Stolen Identity Fraud Prevention Act, H.R. 3832, would establish a central point of contact at the IRS for victims of identity theft, enhance notification of suspected victims of identity theft and require the IRS to probe the feasibility of allowing victims of tax-related identity to opt out of electronic filing.

“(On Monday), the House passed my bipartisan bill to protect hardworking American taxpayers,” Renacci, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said. “Tax-related identity theft is an evolving criminal activity that can happen to anyone. In fact, last tax season my identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent tax return. Northeast Ohioans and taxpayers throughout the country deserve to have their hard earned dollars shielded from thieves. That is why I am pleased to see the House take this important first step to better safeguard taxpayer dollars and reduce the hardships caused by this criminal activity. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to ensure this bill is signed into law.”

An Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) would also be established under the bill to collect, analyze and share data and information to prevent identity theft.

Speaking in support of the bill on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) said that the legislation was about protecting taxpayers from people who want to do them harm.

“There is so much going on in our world today,” Kelly said. “We are so vulnerable at every single turn. We put so much information out there on ourselves. This is a piece of legislation that protects people. It protects not only their returns, but protects their identity.

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) said on the House floor that the bill works to ensure that the tax administration and tax code respect the privacy of individuals.

“What Mr. Renacci and all of us have come together here to support are simple, commonsense reforms that are going to help people out like Terry,” Reed said. “Terry is from Hornell in my district. He reached out to us, Mr. Speaker, about one-and-a-half years to two years ago. He, too, was the victim of identity fraud and identity theft. When he went to file his return, he found out that he would not be getting that refund because someone had already stolen that money from the U.S. government. Terry relied on that money, Mr. Speaker. He needed that money. After many phone calls, after many efforts from our office, we were able to work it out and get that taken care of for Terry.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, added that the bipartisan bill would take steps to protect taxpayers from identity theft.

“Every year, people across the country discover they are a victim of tax-related identity theft,” Brady said. “Congressman Jim Renacci turned his personal experience as a victim of identity theft into a legislative solution that will help protect all Americans. The bill we passed today will prevent fraud, increase transparency, and improve IRS customer service to better serve taxpayers. I appreciate Congressman Renacci’s leadership against a crime that impacts so many Americans.” 

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