(DCWatchdog.com) – In a shocking development, the Internal Revenue Service has lost millions of tax account records of individuals and businesses, as established by an internal watchdog’s special report.
In the document issued on Tuesday, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosed the IRS was unable to find thousands of microfilm cartridges with millions of sensitive account records.
The cartridges contained backup copies of tax records from the 2010 fiscal year and were stored at a processing center in Fresno, California.
After the Fresno location was closed, the now-missing cartridges were supposed to be sent to a processing center in Kansas City, Missouri, last February.
Besides being unable to locate the Fresno materials, the IRS watchdog also discovered seven empty cartridge boxes in Ogden, Utah, which could contain up to 168 cartridges.
The Ogden Tax Processing Center could not determine where the missing cartridges had gone.
In another IRS mystery, the internal inspectorate could not locate over 4,000 business tax record cartridges from FY 2018 and 4,500 individual tax record cartridges from FY 2019.
All of those were supposed to be at the processing center in Kansas City.
“The personal taxpayer and tax information included on these backup cartridges is key information that can be used to commit tax refund fraud identity theft,” states the report of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
In another newly exposed violation, the internal investigation further established that the microfilm cartridges at the Ogden Center in Utah were not “adequately safeguarded to limit access” to the sensitive tax account information they contained.
To top it all off, the probe discovered that all three tax processing centers mentioned above engaged in a faulty practice of storing information cartridges well beyond their proper retention date.
According to US law, IRS backup cartridges containing individual tax records must be destroyed 30 years after their filing date, while business tax records should be kept for up to 75 years.
According to the watchdog, IRS personnel have failed to conduct obligatory annual inventories of microfilm cartridges, and the tax authority should “better restrict access to the tax records.”
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said that the IRS cannot account for microfilm cartridges, conatining backups of tax records as required under federal law, from fiscal year 2010 that were originally stored at a processing center.
— The Hill (@thehill) August 10, 2023