IRS must be held more accountable for data breach | News, Sports, Jobs

Many Americans resent the prospect of the Internal Revenue Service hiring tens of thousands more officers to allow the agency to audit more tax returns and, in doing so, presumably encourage a more honest tax compliance.

Some dissatisfaction stems from the mere prospect of the tax agency seemingly gaining more power, even though the taxpayer concerned never cheated the federal treasury out of money owed to them.

Some of the other discontent expressed comes from individuals and entities whose tax honesty might be “Doubtful.”

None of these scenarios should come as a surprise, especially at a time when the federal government is the target of so much controversy, suspicion and conspiracy allegations.

Then there’s the reality that the IRS, in the eyes of many Americans, is nowhere near the top of the list of the most popular federal agencies. Yet few people wonder how the country could exist without the funds that the work of the IRS helps generate.

Suffice it to say, every taxpayer who values ​​honesty at tax time should support every legal effort possible to catch up with those who are not.

Despite all of the above, the IRS is not immune to scrutiny and criticism when it makes a mistake or when something goes wrong, such as failing to protect confidential taxpayer data. .

In its Sept. 3-4 edition, The Wall Street Journal revealed that the tax agency exposed confidential data of about 120,000 people before it discovered the error and removed the data from its website.

If nothing else, the troubling situation has sent a signal that the agency may need increased surveillance during its day-to-day operations to catch problems so quickly that they cause little or no damage.

Another possibility could be to reorganize some responsibilities within the current staff structure to achieve the same result.

The IRS still has a backlog of work resulting from the pandemic, including processing amended returns. So there are reasonable grounds to exert some degree of understanding on an error window in a work challenge of this magnitude.

However, this is where Congress needs to step in, look at what went wrong and figure out how lawmakers could help avoid similar or new problems in the future.

According to the Journal report earlier this month, the IRS and the Treasury Department blame a human coding error that occurred last year when Form 990-T began to be filed electronically.

Form 990-T is required on certain tax returns for individuals with Individual Retirement Accounts who earn certain types of business income under those retirement plans.

The Journal report said non-public information such as names, contact details and financial information were mistakenly included in the public data, but Social Security numbers, full individual income information or other data that could affect a taxpayer’s credit were not.

Yet what happened should not have happened and should have no window to happen again. After being made aware of the issue on September 2, Congress, in the days and weeks ahead, must dig deeper into what happened and why the unwanted window of opportunity may have been present.

What happened will have the ability to make even the most thorough and honest registrants a little more pissed off in years to come.

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