For Immediate Release - February 06, 2015

Massachusetts Department of Revenue Responds to Reports of an Increase in Fraudulent Tax Return Filings

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) was recently made aware of an apparent increase in the filing of fraudulent tax returns nationwide, and is working closely with other state revenue agencies and third-party tax preparation software vendors to analyze the new information. The issue being identified has to do with returns being filed using information obtained through various data breaches external to DOR. DOR’s own computer tax system is secure and has not been compromised.

“Our first concern is the protection of Massachusetts taxpayers’ personal information,” said Commissioner Amy Pitter. “We want to be sure that the tax refunds currently in the pipeline are being sent to the legitimate taxpayer. We have temporarily stopped issuing refunds in order to further scrutinize the returns based on new information that we received in our discussions with other state agencies and the country’s largest provider of third-party tax preparation software.”

Approximately 160,000 tax returns claiming refunds are currently in the DOR system and will receive additional scrutiny before refunds are released to taxpayers. The Department already employs a vigorous fraud filter system that was responsible for stopping $25 million in fraud in the last filing season. However, in an abundance of caution, DOR will further review returns currently in the pipeline before releasing refunds.

If a return cannot be authenticated, the taxpayer on record will receive a letter requesting additional information to verify and confirm identity. Once the information has been received and reviewed, the refund will be processed and sent to the taxpayer.

“We want to minimize the impact to taxpayers,” said the Commissioner. “But it is essential that we take all necessary precautions to protect taxpayers and reduce the cost of fraud for the Commonwealth.”

The Department will continue to work closely with other state revenue departments and third-party software vendors to share information in our mutual effort to impede the persistent and intensifying efforts of criminals who engage in identity theft.

Taxpayers with concerns about their individual return should contact the Department of Revenue’s customer service group at 617-887 6367.