«Testimony of The Honorable J. Russell George Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration March 3, 2015 Washington, D.C. TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE ...»
TIGTA’s investigative priorities include investigating allegations of serious misconduct and criminal activity by IRS employees; ensuring that IRS employees are safe and IRS facilities, data and infrastructure are secure and not impeded by threats of violence; and protecting the IRS against external attempts to corrupt or otherwise interfere with tax administration.
IRS employees are entrusted with the sensitive personal and financial information of taxpayers. It is particularly troubling when IRS employees misuse their positions in furtherance of identity theft and other fraud schemes. TIGTA will continue to proactively review the activities of IRS employees who access taxpayer accounts for any indication of unauthorized accesses that may be part of a larger fraud scheme and conduct investigations into suspected wrongdoing.
For TIGTA’s investigators, our experience has shown that the IRS’s expanded role under the ACA may spark a new wave of animosity directed toward IRS employees that could result in threats of violence or the actual assault of IRS employees and attacks on IRS facilities. For example, TIGTA has investigated threats made by taxpayers to IRS employees as a result of the IRS offsetting their Federal tax refunds for the repayment of student loans or court-ordered child support payments. As ACA provisions start to take effect, additional resources will be dedicated to investigating related threats.
Shortly after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the ACA, the media reported that criminals impersonated a Federal agency in an attempt to fraudulently obtain personally identifiable information from unsuspecting taxpayers.
Criminals could use such sensitive information to further their identity theft schemes and other crimes under the guise that the information was required for ACA compliance.
Based upon our experience investigating this type of criminal activity, TIGTA anticipates a significant increase in the number of ACA-related impersonation attempts as the IRS begins its role in ACA compliance activity.
Between FYs 2011 and 2014, TIGTA processed over 10,240 threat-related
Pub. L. No. 111-147, Subtitle A, 124 Stat 97 (2010)(codified in scattered sections of 26 U.S.C.).
complaints and conducted over 4,990 investigations of threats made against IRS employees. TIGTA will continue to aggressively investigate individuals who threaten the safety and security of the IRS and its employees.
As mentioned earlier, the TIGTA Hotline has received over 300,000 reports from taxpayers victimized by individuals impersonating IRS employees in an effort to defraud them. As of January 31, 2015, more than 3,000 victims have reported an aggregate loss in excess of $15 million dollars. TIGTA will continue to investigate these crimes against taxpayers and alert the public to this scam to ensure that innocent taxpayers are not harmed by these criminals.
We at TIGTA are committed to our mission of ensuring an effective and efficient tax administration system and preventing, detecting, and deterring waste, fraud, and abuse. As such, we plan to provide continuing audit coverage of the IRS’s efforts to operate efficiently and effectively and investigate any instances of IRS employee misconduct or fraud in IRS operations.
Chairman Boozman, Ranking Member Coons, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to share my views.
A native of New York City, where he attended public schools, including Brooklyn Technical High School, Mr. George received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Washington, DC, and his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Harvard University's School of Law in Cambridge, MA. After receiving his law degree, he returned to New York and served as a prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney's Office.
Following his work as a prosecutor, Mr. George joined the Counsel's Office in the White House Office of Management and Budget where he was Assistant General Counsel. In that capacity, he provided legal guidance on issues concerning presidential and executive branch authority. He was next invited to join the White House Staff as the Associate Director for Policy in the Office of National Service. It was there that he implemented the legislation establishing the Commission for National and Community Service, the precursor to the Corporation for National and Community Service. He then returned to New York and practiced law at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, Nessen, Kamin & Frankel.
In 1995, Mr. George returned to Washington and joined the staff of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, where he served as the Staff Director and Chief Counsel of the Government Management, Information and Technology subcommittee (later renamed the Subcommittee on Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations), chaired by Representative Stephen Horn. There he directed a staff that conducted over 200 hearings on legislative and oversight issues pertaining to Federal Government management practices, including procurement policies, the disposition of government-controlled information, the performance of chief financial officers and inspectors general, and the Government's use of technology. He continued in that position until his appointment by President Bush in 2002.
In addition to his duties as the Inspector General for Tax Administration, Mr. George serves as a member of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, a non-partisan, non-political agency created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide unprecedented transparency and to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and mismanagement of Recovery funds. There, he serves as chairman of the Recovery.gov committee, which oversees the dissemination of accurate and timely data about Recovery funds.
Mr. George also serves as a member of the Integrity Committee of the Council of Inspectors General for Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). CIGIE is an independent entity within the executive branch statutorily established by the Inspector General Act, as amended, to address integrity, economy, and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies; and increase the professionalism and effectiveness of personnel by developing policies, standards, and approaches to aid in the establishment of a well-trained and highly skilled workforce in the offices of the Inspectors General. The CIGIE Integrity Committee serves as an independent review and investigative mechanism for allegations of wrongdoing brought against Inspectors General.