The IRS has gotten serious about identify theft. The agency announced that it has expanded and made permanent its Law Enforcement Assistance Program, which aids local efforts in investigating and prosecuting identity theft cases.
Started as a pilot project in Florida in 2012, the program will now cover all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Among other things, the IRS program will allow state and local government officials pursuing identity theft cases to receive permission from the victim so that the IRS can provide the fraudulently filed tax return.
Identity theft continues to be a major problem for American taxpayers (see "Dirty Dozen Tax Scams") and one which the IRS is pursuing with increasing vigor. In 2011, the IRS prevented the issuance of more than $20 billion in fraudulent refunds, up from $14 billion in 2011, and stopped 5 million suspicious returns, up from 3 million in 2011.