Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Dems raise concerns about shutdown’s impact on assistance to taxpayers GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses Democrats demand answers on Trump short-term insurance plans MORE (D-Ore.) on Friday pressed the Treasury Department and IRS about possible cyber risks facing taxpayers, questioning whether the threat of identity theft is increasing amid the partial government shutdown.
Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill’s Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days House Democrats clash with Mnuchin following sanctions briefing On The Money: Trump inches toward emergency declaration | Eyes disaster bill for wall funds | Trump promises to pay federal workers after shutdown | Fed chief warns long shutdown could hurt economy | China sees progress in trade talks MORE and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking them about what impact the shutdown is having on their operations and if there are any cyber implications.
“Is there increased risk of taxpayer ID theft if lRS tries to maintain normal operations during a shutdown?” Wyden, who’s also the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, asked in the letter. “For example, if IRS is working with a skeleton staff as a result of the shutdown, is there an elevated risk that cyber criminals filing fraudulent returns with stolen taxpayer identities will be able to steal taxpayers’ refunds? Will IRS be able to detect, let alone thwart, these fraudulent attempts?”
The letter comes amid a shutdown that is now in its 21st day, tying it for the longest in U.S. history.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpAnalyst says Trump’s base will support him if he backs off wall funding demand ‘Green Book’ writer apologizes for Islamophobic tweet: ‘I will do better’ Poll finds Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent amid shutdown MORE has maintained he will not sign legislation to reopen the government unless it includes $5.7 billion for his proposed border wall. Democrats have refused to provide that funding.
The impasse means federal workers — who just missed their first paychecks on Friday — are entering uncharted territory that’s creating financial strain and uncertainty for many government employees.
“My constituents in Oregon are growing increasingly concerned that there may be no resolution in sight,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “One of many issues I have been hearing about from them is how an extended shutdown will affect the 2019 tax filing season and the ability of the Internal Revenue Service to process their tax returns and issue timely refunds. Front and center, some 800,000 federal employees nationally, including an estimated 70,000 at IRS, have been furloughed without pay as a result of this needless shutdown.”
The Trump administration this week said tax refunds will be issued even if the government is shut down.