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Opinion
Stephen L. Carter

Can the IRS Be Trusted With Your Data?

A scathing report calls into question the agency’s ability to protect the sensitive information it collects.

It’s not too soon to start worrying.

It’s not too soon to start worrying.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Like many Americans, I tend to feel generous this time of year — not only because it’s the season for giving, but also for the tax implications. This year, however, my usual concerns about how many deductions I can claim on next year’s return have given way to worries about privacy.

In fiscal 2021, the Internal Revenue Service processed 269 million tax forms, each one rich with information that scammers and thieves would love to have. A scathing new report from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration calls into question the ability of the IRS to protect this mass of data.