IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller said he hopes these actions will send a message that the agency is serious about identity theft, which is "one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS today."
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"As tax season begins this year, we want to be clear that there is a heavy price to pay for perpetrators of refund fraud and identity theft," said Miller. "This is part of a much wider effort underway for the 2013 tax season to stop fraud."
Last year, the IRS stopped $20 billion in fraudulent refunds from being issued -- up from $14 billion in the previous year. The agency also had more than 3,000 employees dedicated to prevent and investigate identity theft-related crimes by late 2012 -- more than double the staffing from 2011.
Meanwhile, 223 identity theft suspects were sentenced to prison in 2012 -- up from 80 in 2011 -- and the average jail time for identity thieves climbed by four months to an average sentence of four years