Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) August 21, 2013 - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accidentally posted tens of thousands of Social Security numbers online, prompting identity theft concerns.
The numbers released were those of individuals who donated money to several political tax-exempt organizations.
Political transparency requires non-profit organizations dubbed "527s" (for Section 527 of the tax code which gives those groups a tax-exempt status) to report to the IRS their contributors. Donors to 527s are required to be listed publicly, but their Social Security numbers are not supposed to be included. The IRS posted names and the Social Security numbers in multiple instances.
"Social Security identify theft is unfortunately an ongoing concern," stated David W. Magann, a Tampa social security lawyer and Tampa disability attorney. "I typically advise my clients and others to periodically check their credit reports for anything that seems unusual, not just questionable charges, but also if there are reports of new credit card applications submitted."
As soon as the IRS was alerted that the Social Security numbers had been posted online, the sites were temporarily taken offline in order to remove public access to the information. The IRS has stated that it is investigating the incident and is assessing what steps to take next.
Thousands of 527 organizations exist, from special interest groups to huge trade organizations. There is no cap on how much can be donated to any 527 by an individual; donations are not tax deductible and must be reported publicly. The database is watched closely by watchdog groups, journalists, concerned individuals and congressional staff to see what groups are being backed and by whom. For that reason, there have been concerns raised about the site remaining offline for a length of time, effectively giving 527 donors an unusual level of anonymity.
The IRS requests that Social Security numbers not be included on forms that are to be posted online and available for the public. In a statement, the IRS said that it routinely urges organizations to not include personal information in public filings, including Social Security numbers.
The majority of the numbers which were released to the public were from donations made between 2002 and 2008.
David W. Magann, P.A.
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