CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, September 8, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 744, the Stopping Tax Offenders and Prosecuting Identity Theft Act of 2014 (“STOP Identity Theft Act of 2014”), under suspension of the rules. H.R. 744 was introduced on February 15, 2013 by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill was marked up on July 16, 2014 and was ordered reported, as amended, by voice vote.
H.R. 744 directs the Attorney General to better use existing Department of Justice (DOJ) resources, including any appropriate task forces, to address tax return identity theft and coordinate investigations with state and local authorities. The bill clarifies that, in addition to individuals, victims of identity theft may also include organizations. H.R. 744 increases the penalty for federal identity theft offenses committed during and in relation to tax fraud. H.R. 744 requires DOJ to submit a report to Congress within 180 days of the bill’s enactment on trends in tax return identity theft, recommendations on additional statutory tools that would help prosecute tax return identity theft, and the status of DOJ’s implementation of the March 2010 Audit Report entitled “The Department of Justice’s Efforts to Combat Identity Theft.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first began tracking identity theft complaints in 2000. From that time until 2008, credit card fraud was the most prevalent “misuse of a victim’s identity.” However, in 2010, “government documents and benefits fraud” became the most common complaint. Within that category, tax return identity theft has especially increased: “tax return-related fraud was involved in about 43% of the identity theft complaints received by the FTC in 2012 and about 24% of these complaints in 2011.” In this type of incident, “an identity thief uses a legitimate taxpayer’s identity to fraudulently file a tax return and claim a refund. Generally, the identity thief will use a stolen [Social Security number] to file a forged tax return and attempt to get a fraudulent refund early in the filing season.”
 Kristin Finklea, Identity Theft: Trends and Issues, Congressional Research Service (Jan. 16, 2014) at 18.
 Id. at
 Internal Revenue Service: Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.
According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 744 would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.