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2 April 2012

Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200

To: US Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chair: US Senate Finance Committee, Subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility & Economic Growth

From: Massachusetts Genealogical Council, Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt, CGSM, President

Re: Testimony for hearing on "Tax Fraud by Identity Theft, Part 2: Status, Progress, and Potential Solutions," regarding the Identity Theft and Tax Fraud Prevention Act (S.1534), held Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 10:00 AM, 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
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The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) is an umbrella organization representing more than 36,000 members of genealogical and historical societies who utilize current and historical records to determine kinship. Whether residents of the Commonwealth or descendants of early Massachusetts settlers now living in all fifty states, we wish the Social Security Death Master File (DMF) to remain un-redacted and accessible to the public.

Senate Bill 1534 goes a long way in curbing tax fraud by correcting some of the more egregious problems within the IRS and in law enforcement practices, particularly in Florida, where the bulk of the abuse takes place. The one measure that will hinder rather than help this effort is removal of access to the Death Master File. 

While we are in agreement that there are significant problems within the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and local law enforcement, we need to ensure that legislation proposed to rectify this problem will not have dangerous, if unintended, consequences.

As a tool for research in the genealogical field, the Death Master File is used to determine kinship in myriad ways, just a few of which follow.

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Remember when we all heard about a subcommittee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives about closing the SSDI? There were four bills regarding this, three in the House and one in the U.S. Senate. That Senate bill (S.1534) comes up for a hearing this week. At 10:00 AM Eastern time, on Tuesday, March 20th, the Senate’s subcommittee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth has a hearing titled, “Tax Fraud by Identity Theft, Part 2: Status, Progress, and Potential Solutions.” THE HEARING The website for this subcommittee is multipurpose. Before the hearing you can use it to learn who will be testifying and how to submit your own written testimony. During the hearing (10:00 AM Eastern time), you can go to this page to access a streaming video of the hearing itself. The page is: http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=8c908260-5056-a032-525c-4f663b8d35f8 THE BILL Senate bill S.1534 is sponsored by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who...
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  U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX) submitted a bill on 18 November 2011 called the “Keep IDs Safe Act.”[1] It was given the number H.R.3475.[2] As Rep. Johnson is the chairperson of the Social Security subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, this bill was immediately scheduled for a hearing before his subcommittee. That hearing took place last week. It was delayed by a few minutes so that at least one other member of the committee could be present before testimony was taken. The testimony was limited to only those people whom Rep. Johnson had pre-approved.   When researching bills here in Massachusetts, I keep a three-column Excel spreadsheet. Column 1 contains the part of the Massachusetts General Laws which describe vital records where each paragraph is in a different row/cell down the column. Column 2 contains the text of the bill where each Section of the bill is in...
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Deciphering the Acronyms The Massachusetts Genealogical Council (MGC) is an umbrella organization with both individual and organizational members interested in genealogical and historical research in Massachusetts, and who care about access to public records. MGC monitors legislation, both in Massachusetts and nationally, to ensure that our public records remain accessible. It's not as fun as doing genealogical research, but it is necessary work.  Image courtesy of theUnited States Social Security Administration SSDI stands for Social Security Death Index, the commercial term for the Social Security Administration (SSA) Death Master File (DMF). The DMF is a list of Social Security numbers of people now deceased and whose numbers may not be used by anyone ever again. The Death Master File was created by the SSA to address pension and other forms of benefit fraud, and when used properly, it does just that. It is considered a public document under the Freedom of Information Act, and is sold...
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