VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - (Marketwired - Jun 12, 2015) - Liberty Tax, Inc. (NASDAQ: TAX), parent company of Liberty Tax Service, has joined forces with the Internal Revenue Service and various state tax authorities to implement specific and actionable strategies to combat tax refund identity theft fraud, beginning with the 2016 tax season. In a Memorandum of Understanding, Liberty Tax, along with the IRS, state tax agencies and various industry leaders, has committed to developing taxpayer authentication protocols, providing aggregated analytical data to the IRS to help identify fraud, and continuing discussion of information sharing initiatives.
"Tax refund identity theft fraud is a growing threat to the tax system and our customers. It can have a devastating effect on honest taxpayers," said John Hewitt, president and CEO of Liberty Tax Service. "We welcome the invitation from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to be part of this important initiative, and are pleased by the unprecedented level of cooperation among all the players involved."
The IRS estimated that it paid $5.8 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in 2013. Tax refund identity theft fraud often occurs when a taxpayer's Social Security number and other information are used to file a fraudulent tax return. Taxpayers often discover the fraud when they later attempt to file their returns. Cleaning up after this crime is messy and time-consuming.
Liberty Tax has been proactive in the fight against tax refund identity theft, consistently evaluating and updating its monitoring software to ensure that it is identifying return issues. Participating Liberty Tax offices offered free identity theft protection to customers during the recent tax season.
As part of this IRS initiative, Liberty Tax participated in several joint working groups with the IRS, the states and other industry leaders over the past several months to develop a plan to better address tax refund identity theft fraud beginning with the 2016 tax season.
"This effort is just the beginning," Hewitt said. "We anticipate working with the tax agencies and our colleagues in the industry to address other kinds of tax fraud, as well. We are united and committed to protecting taxpayers."
A copy of the 2015 Security Summit Report, which describes the initiatives included in the Memorandum of Understanding, as well as other proposals and legislative recommendations, can be found at http://www.irs.gov/PUP/newsroom/2015%20Security%20Summit%20Report.pdf.
Founded in 1997 by CEO John T. Hewitt, Liberty Tax, Inc., is the parent company of Liberty Tax Service. Liberty Tax is the fastest-growing tax preparation franchise and has prepared nearly 20 million individual income tax returns in more than 4,300 offices and online. Liberty Tax's online services are available through eSmart Tax, Liberty Online and DIY Tax, and are all backed by the tax professionals at Liberty Tax locations and its nationwide network of approximately 35,000 seasonal tax preparers. Liberty Tax also supports local communities with fundraising endeavors and contributes as a national sponsor for many charitable causes. For a more in-depth look, visit Liberty Tax Service and interact with Liberty Tax on Twitter and Facebook.
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