Ohio officials: Most taxpayers taking new quiz are passing

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly 1 million taxpayers have taken a new quiz used by the state to catch phony income-tax returns and most have passed it, the tax commissioner says.

The quiz to confirm identity initially puzzled some residents. The Ohio Department of Taxation had to tweak some questions as it sought to cut down on those that people couldn't respond to because they were obscure or outside recent memory.

The four multiple-choice questions are being used for the first time this year to make sure a tax return submitted in someone's name is genuine and not an attempt by an identity thief to collect a refund check.

Thousands of Ohio residents have been getting asked questions online and over the phone, such as: How old is your grandchild? What brand of car do you have? How long is your mortgage?

Tax Commissioner Joe Testa said in a statement Wednesday that the new security survey was proving to be "an invaluable tool."

Testa said 98 percent of the nearly 1 million asked to take the quiz have passed. About 160,000 filers who were asked to take the quiz still haven't; he said that is an indication of potential fraud.

Once taxpayers have passed the quiz, the tax department says residents should get their electronic refunds in seven days or mailed checks within 10 to 12 days.

The identity-verifying questions are derived from information taken from national databases and other sources.

If taxpayers get three of the four questions correct, their returns are processed. If not, they will need to take another quiz. If they fail again, they must produce a driver's license, birth certificate or other documentation to prove their identity.

As the April 15 tax filing deadline nears, state officials say they are focused on reducing call times and hold times so more taxpayers are served.