It’s tax season! As you prepare to file your taxes, remember to store your personal information such as W-2 forms, bank account summaries and other tax-related documents in secure locations. This time of year, identity thieves are especially prominent and out to steal real taxpayer identities and file fraudulent tax returns to request and steal the victims’ refunds.
Since its inception in 2014, the Indiana Department of Revenue’s Identity Protection Program has identified and stopped more than $100 million in fraudulent refund attempts and helped thousands of legitimate taxpayers realize their identities have been stolen. This year, the department again will be implementing the Identity Protection Program to protect Hoosier taxpayer identities and refunds. This program will look similar to the security measures implemented last year, including the Identity Confirmation Quiz, a two-minute quiz asking some taxpayers to confirm their identities.
Those selected to complete the Identity Confirmation Quiz will receive a letter from the department. The Identity Confirmation Quiz is taken on a secure web site or over the phone and contains four short questions, which only the person asked to complete the quiz would be able to answer.
Through the Identity Protection Program, the department aims to protect taxpayers’ identities and potential refunds and the state of Indiana from potential refund fraud.
For more information about the Identity Protection Program and tips for protecting your tax refund and identity, visit the department’s Stop ID Theft web site.
The Indiana Department of Revenue (IDOR), and its counterparts across the country, deal in numbers — big numbers. At the end of April, the agency released some statistics about the 2010 tax season. Here’s a few to ponder:
More than 140,000 phone calls to IDOR during the tax season, including an average of 1,100 a day in the first two weeks of April. (The agency touts its on-hold times decreased from over four minutes to less than three minutes per call)
More than 1.6 million refunds in 2010 compared to about 1.5 million a year earlier. Average refund amount: $324 this year; $279 in 2009
The push for more electronic returns continues — and with good reason. It costs the state about $2.3 million to process one million paper returns, but just $150,000 to process more than two million electronic returns; accuracy is 99% for electronic returns and less than 80% for paper returns; and refunds directly into taxpayers’ accounts from electronic returns are issued in an average of three days, while the paper route takes between six and 12 weeks
In the "I didn’t know that category," IDOR says about 700,000 mailed returns come in after April 15. By the end of the calendar year, the total number of returns processed will be approximately 3.1 million.
See, I told you there were some big numbers involved. And just to make sure the agency was living up to its claims, I checked and my refund did show up within a week. Hats off to the tax men and women.