IRS Points Finger At Russia In Recent Tax Record Theft

It's now believed that a crime syndicate in Russia is responsible for a security breach resulting in the theft of IRS records containing personally identifiable information for over 100,000 taxpayers. The sole purpose of the theft was to engage in identity theft for the purposes of tax fraud, a scheme that was used to file some $50 million in fraudulent tax returns.

Peter Roskam, an Illinois Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee with IRS oversight, told CNN that he heard from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen via telephone that the hack originated from Russia. It's concerning in part because it was recently disclosed that Russian hackers also breached the White House and State Department computer systems.


"It's a problem, no matter where it's coming from, for the taxpayers and the IRS. It surely doesn't help matters though that it's coming from Russia for all the obvious geopolitical reasons," Roskam said.

What's also concerning is that the security of taxpayer data has been an ongoing problem for several years now. Back in October, the IRS's independent watchdog cited this very thing as the agency's top problem, noting that computer security has been an issue for the IRS since 1997. This recent breach serves as another black eye for the IRS. It also has politicians up in arms, Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch announced plans to have his committee question Koskinen on how this happened and who's ultimately at fault.

The investigation into the cyber attack is still ongoing. One thing that's concerning is that the hackers didn't infiltrate the IRS directly. Instead, they obtained certain taxpayer information elsewhere and then used that information to answer security questions on the IRS's website. The IRS became suspicious of foul play when it saw an unusual rise in taxpayers looking up past tax records.