The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed a companion version of legislation written by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) that would make the prosecution of tax return identify theft a greater priority and strengthen penalties against identify thieves. In the last two years alone tax return thieves have stolen more than $9 billion from American taxpayers and the U.S. Treasury, while wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting taxpayers who fall victim to this crime.
The Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act (STOP Identity Theft Act (S.149/H.R. 744)) would also expand the definition of an identity theft victim to include not only individuals, but also businesses and organizations that have had their identities stolen for phishing schemes in an attempt to get sensitive information from consumers.
"Each year, millions of hard-working Americans who file their tax returns in the hope of paying bills, creating savings, or even taking a vacation instead discover that it has already been filed and the refund claimed," said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. "Florida leads the nation in identity theft from stolen tax returns, and this legislation is imperative to better protect filers and penalize criminals in my home state and nationwide. I thank Senator Klobuchar and the Senate Judiciary Committee for their leadership, and I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation in the House of Representatives."
S. 149 now advances to the Senate floor for full consideration.