HELENA – Due to fraud prevention efforts, the Montana Department of Revenue is taking additional time to process income tax refunds.
“The Department of Revenue takes identity theft very seriously and we appreciate the taxpayers’ patience as we leverage our identity verification tools to ensure tax refunds are not going to someone who’s stolen personal, confidential information,” Revenue Director Mike Kadas said in a statement.
As one of the strategies to help combat identity theft, selected taxpayers will receive an identity verification letter from the department that lays out steps to confirm their identity to the department, such as having the taxpayer provide an identification number and send supporting documents. A common scheme has been for a fraudster to steal taxpayer information from an employer. The most recent example involved the denial of 56 fraudulent returns filed this spring. The company’s employees and spouses often don’t even realize that they’ve been victimized until they receive the verification letter from the department. So far, this process has proven to be a success.
Since 2011, the department has blocked approximately $5 million filed by identity thieves seeking to claim tax refunds that don’t belong to them. As part of unprecedented Security Summit partnership, the department is working together with the IRS, the tax software industry and other states to protect federal and state tax accounts from identity thieves.
The number of new people reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns fell by more than 50% last year with similar drops in Montana. However, cybercriminals are using more sophisticated tactics to steal even more data that allow them to impersonate taxpayers, so systems and processes continue to be strengthened.
Taxpayers can visit the Department of Revenue’s website at revenue.mt.gov for more information about how to check the status of their refund. The “Where’s My Refund” FAQs also provides answers to help taxpayers check their refund status. Information about recent scams and steps to take if you are a victim of identity theft can be found on the Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention Information page.