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The Internal Revenue Service reports that it stopped over $1.4 billion dollars in refunds from being stolen in 2011. However, proving identity theft in connection to tax fraud has been difficult for law enforcement agencies due to the highly confidential nature and protection of tax records (even fraudulent ones) by the IRS. To provide easier access to returns for the sake of criminal prosecution, the agency is developing a new procedure in which police-identified victims of fraud can be asked to sign a waiver allowing any false tax returns filed in their name to be shared. The details of the program are still being worked out between federal, state and local officials but it is anticipated that the initial pilot will start in Tampa, Fla., according to theTampa Tribune
. The IRS also plans to expand the Identity Protection PIN pilot that was launched in 2011, which provides past victims of identity theft a way to file returns in successive years with minimal delay.