Issues

IRS Was Warned About Taxpayer Data Breaches

Failed to implement recommendations that could have protected taxpayers

AP

An IRS data breach that resulted in the stolen personal tax information of over 100,000 households could have been prevented had the IRS listened to watchdog groups, Americans for Tax Reform reports.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) warned the IRS that it was not sufficiently protecting taxpayer data. It also made recommendations that the IRS fialed to implement.

TIGTA Chief J. Russell George told the Senate Finance Committee at a Tuesday hearing that the IRS failed to implement over 40 recommendations that would have made taxpayer information safer from hackers.

According to ATR:

Since 2007, the IRS has been warned at least seven times by watchdog groups that it needed to strengthen its protections of taxpayer information.

In a 2014 report, TIGTA warned that if stronger protections are not implemented, "taxpayers could be exposed to the loss of privacy and to financial loss and damages resulting from identity theft or other financial crimes."  The report was the latest in a series of warnings about the agency's inability to protect taxpayer information.

2013 report found that the IRS had failed to fully implement eight recommendations that would increase security over taxpayer data despite telling TIGTA they had been implemented. A 2011 report found that taxpayer data was vulnerable to hackers and stronger security measures were needed and in 2010, TIGTA found that the agency had inadequate safeguards to protect taxpayer information from contract workers.

Instead of modernizing its system to protect taxpayer information from hackers, the IRS wasted taxpayer dollars by purchasing Nerf footballs that were never used, the world's largest crossword puzzle, $100 lunches, and Thomas the Tank Engine Wristbands."