Identity theft is another prevalent issue for the IRS and another topic that the IRSAC has attempted to address in its report. But I don’t think their recommendation for curbing identity theft would be popular with most taxpayers who (mistakenly) see their April refund check as the ultimate form of tax relief:
The IRS should strongly consider delaying refunds until after verification of the taxpayer’s identity. For taxpayers that rely on an early refund in January, the IRS should consider a process under which 25 percent of the refund is issued prior to verification, and the remaining 75 percent issued after verification.
Everything the IRS has done up until now has been aimed at speeding up the refund process and shifting over to a “real-time” tax system. See IRS Real Time Tax Initiative. But with the onslaught of fraudulent refunds obtained by using stolen identities, the IRS may have to backpedal somewhat. The thought of having to wait a little longer will be very frustrating to the average taxpayer. I imagine it would be somewhat like having to go back to a dial-up internet connection after being accustomed to DSL. Of course, from a tax attorney perspective, the solution is to adjust your withholdings so you don’t end up with a huge refund in the first place.