- 1.1 Million Social Security numbers have been stolen and used by illegal workers.
- The IRS knew about this over 5 years ago, but failed to notify any of the victims of their identity theft.
- Right now, the IRS has no program in place to prevent this kind of identity theft or any program to even notify the victims.
- The IRS has also stated that their goal is to collect taxes (even from illegal workers) and not to enforce immigration laws.
Over one million Social Security numbers have been stolen and used by illegal immigrants in the United States and the IRS knew about it five years ago. They just didn’t bother to tell anyone.
The inspector general looking into the IRS discovered that the agency’s own investigators had discovered the problem over five years ago, but the agency had failed to notify the victims or attempt to fix the problem.
“Taxpayers identified as victims of employment-related identity theft are not notified,” the inspector general said.
The IRS did have a pilot program in place to notify those that had had their identity’s stolen, but they quickly scrapped the project after telling just 25,000 people out of the 1.1 million that they were victims between 2011 and 2015.
Instead, the IRS has chosen a different route. They issue Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to illegal workers who aren’t eligible for their own social security number. This ensures that even though they are illegally working, they still pay their taxes. The IRS then finds out the SSN has been stolen when it shows up with one of the numbers during tax season.
However, the IRS doesn’t seem to care as long as they get their money. In fact, they have even stated that their role is not enforcing immigration, but instead collecting taxes, even from illegal workers.
When IRS Commissioner John G. Koskinen went before a house committee he made it clear that while they should do more for the American victims, the IRS doesn’t want to scare off illegal workers who are currently filing their taxes.
“Obviously, priority for taxpayers and the IRS is collecting those taxes,” said Koskinen.
A few Republican lawmakers were not happy with his answers.
“It is stunning that the IRS has chosen to aid and abet identity thieves for so long instead of protecting the innocent victims of the theft,” said Sen. Daniel Coats, Indiana Republican.
John G. Koskinen claimed that there would need to be new legislation in place to be able to notify all of the affected that their SSN had been stolen.
This should be a relatively easy fix. However, the inspector general claimed that there simply was no program in place to alert the victims of their theft.
“The lack of a formal process to ensure that the SSA is notified of income not associated with an innocent taxpayer is problematic because this notification is essential to ensure that victims’ Social Security benefits are not affected,” the inspector general said.
So while this has finally come to light, so far no measures have been put in place to prevent it from happening again and again in the future.