U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, announced Monday that he's sponsoring legislation to encourage employers to keep Social Security numbers off common federal tax forms, hoping to cut down on victims of identity theft.
More than 800 people in the Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port area were victims of identity theft in 2014, Buchanan said. Nationwide, 17.6 million Americans were victims of identity theft, including 2.6 million senior citizen victims, up from 2.1 million in 2012, according to the Department of Justice.
"This bipartisan, common-sense measure will protect Americans from identity fraud by limiting the use of Social Security numbers on the most popular tax forms, including the W-2," said Buchanan, a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. "We must be doing all we can to end this growing problem, which hits seniors especially hard."
Buchanan said the Taxpayer Identity Protection Act would impact all working Americans, since it would allow employers to use an identifying number other than a Social Security number on Form W-2, which companies are required to issue to any employee earning at least $600 per year.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, Florida has the highest per capita rate of identity theft. Of the cities with the most identity theft complaints in 2014, nine of the top 20 are in Florida, according to a release from Buchanan's office.