The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) consultant has been charged with unauthorized disclosure of tax return information. This comes after ProPublica reported that they had received stolen tax information in June 2021, raising concerns about the massive compromise of private taxpayer data. The consultant allegedly stole sensitive and protected individual tax data from the IRS and provided it to two undisclosed news organizations. The DOJ has charged the consultant with serious tax crimes, and investigators are still determining the extent of the leaks. This breach of taxpayer rights highlights the failure of IRS guardrails to prevent such a brazen security breach, and resolving this issue and identifying impacted individuals should be the IRS’s top priority.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report identifying security risks to the safety of confidential taxpayer information at the IRS. The report highlights unresolved security risks and recommends measures to improve the IRS’s ability to safeguard taxpayer information. The GAO calls for agency-wide training completion goals for contractors, maintenance of a comprehensive inventory of systems storing taxpayer information, and a risk assessment of methods of data transferals to contractors. These recommendations add to the already numerous suggestions the IRS has failed to implement.
It is imperative that the IRS addresses these security issues promptly and takes steps to protect taxpayer information. The breach of confidential data raises concerns about the effectiveness of IRS guardrails and the potential impact on a significant number of Americans. Resolving these security issues and compensating the individuals affected by this breach must be the IRS’s highest priority.