New Law Could Lock Up Tax Return Identity Thieves

A new bill making its way through Congress could, if passed, mean tougher penalties for those convicted of identity theft through stolen tax returns, reports Accounting Today.

HR 744, the Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act of 2014 (also known as the STOP Identity Theft Act), passed the House of Representatives earlier this month, Accounting Today reported. It now goes to the Senate after which, if approved, it will reach the President's desk to be signed into law.

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The proposed bill pursues those who fraudulently file tax statements in other peoples' names in order to steal their returns. When those workers file their legitimate returns, they are told the statement was already filed and return paid. The bill proposes punishing those scammers with up to 20 years in jail for fraudulently filing returns for individuals, businesses or charitable groups, Accounting Today reported.

The bill also would require the Justice Department and local law enforcement to work together in tracking identity theft trends, prosecution progress and new tools that might be needed to fight fraud, Accounting Today reported.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-FL, with co-sponsors Lamar Smith, R-TX, and Bob Goodlatte, R-VA.

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