IRS (Again) Puts Taxpayer Info At Risk

Its procedures to combat identity theft sometimes "increase the risk for an unauthorized disclosure of tax return information."


Matthew G Bisanz

On the day that Anthem announced a major security breach compromising customers' records, it may come as welcome news that the Internal Revenue Service has a program specifically intended to cooperate with law enforcement in addressing identity theft. Well…It could come as welcome news, if the program didn't sound so security breachy itself. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration sampled law enforcement requests for taxpayer information received from January 3, 2013 through September 27, 2013, and found that a (un)healthy share of them should never have been processed, because they risked dangerous disclosures of poorly identified people's sensitive information to incompletely identified parties.

The inspector general's report (PDF) was issued on November 28, 2014, but published February 4 of this year. The report examined "a statistically valid sample of 194 of the 2,481" requests for information. It reveals, in part:

Our review of the 155 requests for which the IRS provided the law enforcement officer with tax return information identified 11 (7 percent) requests that should not have been processed. Based on the results of our analysis, we estimate that 141 of the 2,481 requests received during the period January 3, 2013, through September 27, 2013, may not have been rejected as required. These 11 requests included invalid and incomplete information and, as such, should have been rejected from processing.

While some relevant parts of the report are redacted (supposedly because they reveal tax return information or create a risk of circumvention of regulations and statutes), two reasons the requests should have been rejected, says the inspector general, are incomplete identification of whose information was being sought, and insufficient details about who was doing the asking. That's risky because such flawed requests "increase the risk for an unauthorized disclosure of tax return information by providing information to the wrong law enforcement officer or providing the wrong taxpayer's information."

Tracking the specifics of what has been turned over in response to requests—a task the importance of which is enhanced by the possibility the wrong data has been sent to the wrong person—is complicated by the IRS's poor recordkeeping. The IRS "did not maintain copies of the tax return information provided to law enforcement officers for 111 (72 percent) of the requests."

For the majority of requests from law enforcement agencies that were valid attempts to assist victims of identity theft, it's interesting to note that police officers have no better luck than other customers of the tax agency when it comes to having matters dealt with in a timely way. Only 42 percent of requests were processed within the required 10 business days.

The IRS, unfortunately, has a history of turning tax records into hacker bait.

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  1. In July 1862, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln and Congress created the office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted a temporary income tax to pay war expenses

    So Robby Soave is a slaver?

    1. Oh Two Chili. Damn my eyes!

  2. Abu-Baqr-al-Baghdadi’s favorite color is green. So was Milton Friedman’s! Is ISIS libertarian?

    1. Wait, my favorite color is green. I must be ISIS, too!

      1. I knew it, you are Conway Stern!

    2. ISIS opposes US Foreign policy, Libertarians oppose US Foreign policy ergo ISIS is libertarian.

      1. First law of holes, man.

    3. I can only hope this outfit doesn’t get me linked to ISIS:


      I wore that outfit through airport security. Fun times.

      1. I think I will name the character Sheikh Enbeik Salami al Baloni.

        1. Salami, and a leg of ham.

          1. So, Chris Kyle prosciutto, or Adam Lanza?

      2. Brilliant!

  3. Pope’s newly designated martyr’s assassin had big fans among Reagan era conservatives

    “Pope Francis has declared that murdered El Salvador archbishop Oscar Romero is a martyr, a key step in Romero’s potential canonization as a saint. Romero has long been a controversial figure in the Vatican for his endorsement of “liberation theology,” a type of Catholic advocacy for the poor that some believe to be unacceptably Marxist. As The New Republic notes today, Romero’s murder also has a direct connection to American politics?his assassination was ordered by a death-squad leader named Roberto D’Aubuisson who was widely praised by prominent Republicans during the 1980s.”…..isson.html

    1. “By 1984, the L.A. Times piece says, D’Aubuisson had become too much of a liability and the Reagan administration began funding his electoral opponent. D’Aubuisson is said to have responded by planning to have American ambassador Thomas Pickering killed. (Pickering was never attacked.)”

      1. “…Romero was not the only slain cleric who was proclaimed a martyr yesterday. A similar status was accorded to three priests (two Poles and an Italian) who were killed in Peru in 1991 by the ultra-leftist guerrillas known as Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path. This was a time when huge courage was needed to work as a priest in the highland areas where the guerrillas were running amok, pressing local villagers into their service and assassinating anybody, including members of rival Marxist factions, who stood in their way. You could say there was a certain symmetry about yesterday’s announcements: Romero died while protecting people who were at risk mainly (but not only) from right-wing forces; the victims in Peru were trying to shield people from murderous leftists.”…..ew-martyrs

        1. “Sure, Reagan era conservatives, including pro life groups, feted this death squad leader who assassinated a Catholic bishop, but there were other bad people in that country so it was totally ok!”

    2. Is this a game of Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon?

      Ronald Reagan was in Brother Rat (1938) with Eddie Albert who was in The Big Picture (1989) with Kevin Bacon.

      So D’Aubuisson has a Bacon number of 4.

      1. It says Reagan era conservatives, such as GOP Senators, the Moral Majority and major pro life group, for which there was little ‘degree of separation.’ They praised and honored the guy directly.

    3. slate…hahahaha

    4. It’s a good thing your exposing those evil conservatives


    Estonia has the most competitive tax system in the OECD according to the Tax Foundation (a think tank on tax-related issues). It created a global benchmark, the International Tax Competitiveness Index, that takes into account 40 different tax variables. While Estonia is numero uno, the US by contrast ranks #32, between Italy and Portugal.

    What makes Estonia particularly attractive is that it has a 0% corporate income tax on retained earnings or undistributed profits. So if you’re an entrepreneur or want to grow your business, you can reinvest your profits into your business or retain them and pay zero taxes, which is extremely attractive. You only would pay taxes if the owners take a distribution; at that point the tax rate is just around 20%.

    Besides the attractive corporate tax policies, there is no gift tax, wealth tax, or estate/inheritance tax in Estonia.

    It’s also worth mentioning that Estonia has an incredibly low amount of debt, just 10% of GDP?the lowest in the EU.

    1. As I recall the PM of Estonia got into a twitter fight with Paul Krugman about austerity. It got operatic.

  5. Semi relevant:

    Fuck you, pay me.

    Expedia faces claims for at least $800 million in hotel taxes
    Expedia could owe more than $800 million to Hawaii and scores of U.S. city and county governments in tax payments for online hotel bookings over more than a decade, according to a review of dozens of lawsuits and tax-revenue records.

  6. President Mofo lectures America about events of the Middle Ages at the National Prayer Breakfast; says Christians can’t criticize ISIS because of Jim Crow and slavery.

    “Don’t get on your high horse because of the Crusades?” Are you fucking kidding me? Hey you stupid asshole, the Crusades were a reaction to Islamic aggression! And what the hell do Jim Crow and slavery have to with what’s going on in the world in 2015?

    You are detestable scum, Mr. President. Absolute scum.

    1. Ah, didn’t see your post when I gave my link to the speech.

    2. lest we get up on our high horse and think that this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

      Uhh, that was some other place, and some other time. A whole long time ago. The Charlie Hebdo attack was a few weeks ago.

    3. And this dbag thinks his position leaves him immune to people calling him out for his bs…I actually gave him some slack when he was elected. Anymore…he is detestable scum.

      I always thought Pelosi or Boxer led the scum list, gave them a pass cause they are both dumber than a box of rocks. But the narcissist in chief FTW. Fuck him.

    4. “the Crusades were a reaction to Islamic aggression!”

      Yeah, a totally noble and non-mass murdering responses…

      “And what the hell do Jim Crow and slavery have to with what’s going on in the world in 2015?”

      Maybe as reminders that any people can profess a religion of peace and yet act horribly, but that it’s not necessarily fixed for all time?

  7. Greek FM decides he holds the winning cards, tells the German FM what is going to happen:
    “Greek, German ministers clash as ECB snub hits Athens’ banks”…..iness.html

    The market, she not so convinced:
    “Athens main stock exchange tumbled as much as 9% at the open”……..-the-heat/

    Maybe the Germans are finally tired of their dead-beat brother-in-law.

    1. Send a Uboat to sink Greece and kiss that 240 bil in Euros bbye.

      If the Greeks can’t get their shit together cut off their allowance…but this is Europe so right…lmao.

      1. Owe the bank a little bit of money and that’s your problem. Owe the bank a whole lot of money and that’s the bank’s problem.

        That’s the Greek vs. German problem simplified.

        Greece is paying a huge portion of their tax revenue to pay off bond debt (the troika deal). They’re paying German and EU banks. European banks are under-capitalized and really balance sheet bankrupt. The banks should have been forced to write down a portion of that debt during the first restructuring but they would’ve been bankrupt if they had. If Greece does default then Germans (and other EU citizens) will need to bail-out their own banks.

        This is about Germany and others propping up their banks at the expense of the Greeks. That’s all.

        If the Germans were really about fiscal responsibility they’d hold their own banks responsible for their lending activities, but they won’t. They’d rather blame the Greeks

        The Greek FM is right.


  8. Extra training for deputies who killed mentally ill man.

    Extra training pay to ensue.

    Ronald Hillstrom, a 44-year-old University Place man with a history of severe mental illness, including psychosis, died on May 11, 2014, after four sheriff’s deputies ? assigned as University Place police officers ? used a Taser, their fists and flashlights to subdue him after receiving a call of a “disturbed person.”

    The family’s federal lawsuit alleged the sheriff’s department tried to cover up what they’d done by washing away blood before detectives arrived.

    Taxpayers who weren’t even at the scene forced to apologize with $750,000 check.

  9. Obama bravely denounces those who “twist[] and distort[]” religion.

    But this is “not unique to one group or one religion.” Certainly not! Don’t forget the Inquisition, the Crusades and Jim Crow!

    “And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults — (applause) — and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech. Because we know that our nations are stronger when people of all faiths feel that they are welcome, that they, too, are full and equal members of our countries.”…..-breakfast

    1. He brought up the Inquisition, the Crusades, and Jim Crow. He forgot to bring up the Westboro Baptists though.

      And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

      It sure is fascinating how the immediate response Muslim violence NOW is to condemn Christian violence in the PAST.

      1. It sure is fascinating how the immediate response Muslim violence NOW is to condemn Christian violence in the PAST.

        It’s especially funny give that there is one obvious example of an ongoing mass slaughter perpetrated by Christians, namely Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

        I don’t know why progressives don’t just bring up the LRA when trying to make this argument, instead of embarrassing themselves by talking about the fucking Crusades.

        1. Perhaps the criticism might be better aimed by pointing out that millions of American Christians willing cheer on the empire and its ongoing disregard for life.

          1. Perhaps more Christians should remember that their allegiance is to God and not to the Great Satan and its empire.

            It is not ISIS that has military installations in over 100 countries.

            It is not Iran that has military installations in over 100 countries.

            It is not Iran that has initiated warfare against the US or Canada or Mexico or the Bahamas or Bermuda or Cuba or Costa Rica, whereas the US has made war against many of Iran’s neighbors.

            Its not like its even close when you tally up the number of victims of Christian violence as against victims of muslim violence in the last 100 years.

            1. It is not Iran that has initiated warfare against the US or Canada or Mexico or the Bahamas or Bermuda or Cuba or Costa Rica, whereas the US has made war against many of Iran’s neighbors.

              Iran has made war against many of Iran’s neighbors.

              The reason Iran hasn’t tried to attack Canada is because Iran lacks the money and the military means to do so. The countries that actually surround Iran, however, have had to deal with Iranian militarism repeatedly, not to mention Iran’s funding of terrorist organizations all over the planet.

              And again, the idea that a western country going to war counts as ‘Christian violence’ is an absurdity. You might as well call it capitalist violence or free speech violence or Democracy violence. Hell, democracy is more of a foundational principle of modern western nations than Christianity is and democracy was the justification for the invasion of Iraq. There have been more ‘wars for Democracy’ waged by the West than wars for Christianity in the last, oh, 300 years.

              Why don’t you go try to live under one of those Muslim governments you’re busily defending, Mike. Go post criticism of the Iranian government from inside Iran the way you’re currently doing about America’s government.

              How would that end, Mike? It would end just like it’s ended for all the Iranian journalists who have been tortured, jailed and killed. Muslims are the primary victims of Muslim violence and you should find it as abhorrent as I do.

              1. Am I supporting any Muslim government? If so, I must have missed that.

      2. Come on!

        The number of Muslim victims of American violence dwarfs the number of Christian victims of muslim violence in the last year, the last 5 years and the last 100 years.

        1. Define your terms. When America goes to war in the Middle East, that’s not ‘Christian violence’ it’s American violence.

          In order for something to be religious violence, it must be inspired by the religion. America is a secular state and the idiotic wars of our government are not religious wars. The Iraq War, in particular, was supported by a lot of left-wing atheist interventionists like Christopher Hitchens, as well as British Labour politicians like Tony Blair. So those wars are clearly not religiously motivated.

          I also don’t think you’re right, because you’re only counting Western Christians. Given that approximately 2 million majority Christian South Sudanese were murdered in an attempted genocide carried out by the Muslim north in the 1990s and another 300,000 non-Arabs in Darfur were murdered by Sudanese Arab Muslims, that’s about 2.5 million Christian civilians killed in an active religiously motivated genocide in a single country. If you were to add up all the anti-Christian violence in the Middle East and North Africa in the last 60 years, I think the number of dead would shock you.

          I also think that’s a pointless argument, since the majority of the victims of fundamentalist Islam are other Muslims. Given that innocent Muslims being murdered by the more exuberant members of their faith is just as evil as Christians being murdered by fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Islam has oceans of blood on its hands.

          1. Qualifying violence, i.e. “religous violence”, reminds me of “hate crimes”. It suggests that an action should be judged more by what was going through the perpetrator’s mind at the time than by the action itself. I know you probably don’t mean that, but I do think the term invites misuse.

            1. lap83|2.6.15 @ 12:35AM|#
              “Qualifying violence, i.e. “religous violence”, reminds me of “hate crimes”. It suggests that an action should be judged more by what was going through the perpetrator’s mind at the time than by the action itself.”

              I don’t see any problem in judging the cause of the violence, be it racial hatred, religious hatred, etc.
              The problem is when that cause is used to either justify it or increase a penalty for the action.
              Murder is murder, but often you’d want to know why.

          2. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in the United States self identify as Christians and have done so since the founding. Surely, you do not doubt that?

            The fact is that hundreds of millions of American Christians have seen fit to finance America’s war on Muslim nations in the last century. Any asseveration to the contrary is just denial as one would somehow have to pretend that there have not been 100,000,000 people who have self-identified as Christians in America since 1914.

            Thus, to characterize America’s constant warfare on Muslim nations as “making the world safe for democracy” or “nation building” to the exclusion of any reasons pertaining to Christianity is delusion.

            Christians willingly pledge allegiance to the American empire; they pay taxes and they want the government to cage those who refuse to pay tribute to Caesar; they apotheosize soldiers and war; they do not call for an immediate end to America’s imperialism; they fail to condemn the burden of debt being left for their progeny; and their churches have incessant military appreciation days in defiance of Christ.

            1. From a realistic standpoint, there can be no doubt that the American leviathan has been, and continues to be, the single greatest threat to liberty.

      3. “It sure is fascinating how the immediate response Muslim violence NOW is to condemn Christian violence in the PAST.”

        I’m pretty sure even Obama’s immediate response to Muslim violence has been to condemn that violence. His bringing up past Christian violence us more of a response to those who respond to Muslim violence by condemning Muslims or their religion generally.

        1. Seeing as how Islam has no answer for the radicals in it’s midst and no mechanism for reform, that condemnation is exceedingly fair.
          The whole of Islam is going to have to face the fact that progress marches forward and that the enormous number of fundamentalist Muslims being churned out by madrassas needs to be addressed.
          The useful idiots who try to compare radical Muslims to modern fundie Christians or Christians of 700 years ago do nothing to address what is an obvious problem.

    2. “Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments.”

      -Barack Obama, born again SoCon.

      That speech is enough material for a hundred rounds of Spot the Not.

      1. “Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments.”

        Now, *that* is leadership.

    3. So it is OK to insult and denounce crusaders, but it’s not OK to insult and denounce Muhammad and his violent contemporaries?

      1. The crusaders are safely dead, there bones crumbled into dust, and therefor not scary. Islamic terrorists, on the other hand…

    4. “And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults”

      But does the insult of parodying a religion compare to the insult of going out of your way to defend a group who is known for killing everyone who crosses their path?

      1. and good lord is Obama out of touch. Does anyone like ISIS at this point but ISIS? Jordan may be relatively free for a Middle Eastern country, but the state religion is Islam and the King is supposed to be Muslim. If they’re against ISIS I think we can safely say that this is beyond “religious violence”

  10. redacted (supposedly because they … create a risk of circumvention of regulations and statutes)


    1. There once was a white girl named Ashley,
      So uninspired she … Damn it!

  11. I got that email from Anthem today. Perfect end to a perfect day.

    1. To Our Members:

      Safeguarding your personal, financial and medical information is one of our top priorities, and because of that, we have state-of-the-art information security systems to protect your data. However, despite our efforts, Anthem Blue Cross was the target of a very sophisticated external cyber attack. These attackers gained unauthorized access to Anthem’s IT system and have obtained personal information from our current and former members such as their names, birthdays, medical IDs/social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data. Based on what we know now, there is no evidence that credit card or medical information (such as claims, test results or diagnostic codes) were targeted or compromised.

      Once the attack was discovered, Anthem immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability, contacted the FBI and began fully cooperating with their investigation. Anthem has also retained Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to evaluate our systems and identify solutions based on the evolving landscape.

      Anthem’s own associates’ personal information ? including my own ? was accessed during this security breach. We join you in your concern and frustration, and I assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your data.

      1. (Con’t)

        Anthem will individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed. We will provide credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge so that those who have been affected can have peace of mind. We have created a dedicated website – – where members can access information such as frequent questions and answers. As we learn more, we will continually update this website and share that information with you. We have also established a dedicated toll-free number that both current and former members can call if they have questions related to this incident. That number is: 1-877-263-7995.

        I want to personally apologize to each of you for what has happened, as I know you expect us to protect your information. We will continue to do everything in our power to make our systems and security processes better and more secure, and hope that we can earn back your trust and confidence in Anthem.


        Joseph Swedish
        President and CEO
        Anthem, Inc.

        1. And the same Fedgov website will continue to be hacked and will not suffer the penalties that anthem rightly should suffer.

        2. And now you can see another reason why I never put my social security number on any medical records or medical insurance forms. It’s none of their fucking business and they just want it as an additional identifier. No one has ever asked me for it when I leave it blank, and I’m in doctors offices all the time, not just as a physician myself but also as a person with bone marrow cancer.

          One more thing — don’t put anything down on medical records about any of your ‘fun’ history. No one needs to know, for example, that during that one semester you dated the artsy chick, that you smoked Gitanes like she did. It will no doubt be brought up later, as Obamacare and electronic medical records get more ensconced, that you are a former cigarette smoker, so you have to pay higher premiums and might even be denied some treatments. And this would be for a minor indiscretion as a youth which has absolutely ZERO effect on your long term health (i.e. if you smoked cigs a bit in college, but not really since, you are exactly as healthy as a non-smoker (unless your college and smoking ended in the past few days, of course.)

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  13. The latest scam is identity thieves filing your tax return for you, on Turbo Tax. Then they have the refund sent to themselves. Minnesota stopped accepting Turbo Tax returns today after people complained that they were told their taxes were already filed when they tried to send them.

    Apparently federal returns have no issue yet. Yeah, right.

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