Photo credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr  (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Another tax day has come and gone. Iowans across the Third District have filed their tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service and too many have experienced frustrations over a lack of customer service, complicated process, or getting answers to basic questions. Unfortunately, too many were also targeted by identity thieves and scammers who impersonate the IRS. These criminals can upend lives in a matter of minutes.

As a founder of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat Identity Theft and Fraud, I’ve compiled helpful resources for Iowans with tools and resources needed to stay informed and protected from scammers.

Imagine getting a call from your bank or credit card company explaining your information has been compromised or stolen. Or, imagine getting a notification someone stole your name or Social Security Number.

This reality can turn an individual’s or family’s world upside down. Millions of Americans have gotten that call and many have lost everything because of identity thieves.

Last week, I continued my fight to ensure hardworking taxpayers are protected from falling victim to these scams. My bill, the Justice for Victims of IRS Scams and Identity Theft Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week with a vote of 403-3. The IRS Fair Appeals Saving Taxpayers (FAST) Act, another bill I introduced, was added to the Taxpayer First Act which was also passed last week.

Americans lose billions of dollars to identity theft and fraud each year, and taxpayers submit up to 14,000 reports of IRS impersonation scams every week. The Justice for Victims of IRS Scams and Identity Theft Act ensures we have the data, preparation, and ability to fight these criminals. The bill allows the government to better combat scams and identity theft by requiring the U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Treasury Secretary to report to Congress about identity theft and fraud across the country and prepare materials for taxpayers to inform them of these scams. The report will help to ensure your government is prosecuting the scammers stealing the identity of Iowans.

When it comes to dealing with the IRS, it can be a long and frustrating process, and it may seem the IRS doesn’t really care. That’s why the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Taxpayer First Act last week with a vote of 414-0. This bipartisan bill is the largest and most sweeping overhaul of the IRS in 20 years and will put an emphasis on serving taxpayers.

I was pleased my IRS FAST Act was added to the Taxpayer First Act. Right now, if you are going through the appeals process with the IRS you can only access your files through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. That’s utterly ridiculous. These are your files, containing your information, which the IRS is using in a case against you. Currently, the FOIA process makes it overly burdensome for you and many others to access these files.

In a court of law, everyone has the right to see the evidence used against them. The IRS should not be above the law and should not be able to play games with taxpayers. To fix this problem, I introduced the IRS FAST Act which requires the IRS to give you ownership over your own information before the appeals process starts. This saves taxpayers time, money, and stress.

My two bills are just part of a larger push I’m making to protect Iowans from scams, identity theft, and fraud. I’ll continue fighting for Iowans to make the IRS and your government more efficient, transparent, and accountable to you.

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