SSDI — Another Bill Limiting Access — HR 531

With thanks to Jan Meisels Allen, our IAJGS representative:

The third bill addressing access to the Death Master File (commercial version known as the Social Security Death Index) was introduced in Congress on February 6 by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). It is HR 531 entitled: “Tax Crimes and Identity Theft Prevention”.  The co-sponsor of the bill is Rep. Richard Nugent ( R-FL) who is the author of HR 295 which was previously reported to this forum. HR 531 was referred to both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on the Judiciary.

The issue of most interest to genealogists is Section 12 where access to the Death Master File is addressed.  The Section would not permit the Secretary of Commerce to disclose information on anyone included in the DMF regarding a person who died in that calendar year or the succeeding year unless the person is certified by the Secretary of Commerce.  To be certified the person has to have a” legitimate fraud prevention interest” in accessing the information and legitimate fraud prevention interest is not defined,

These are similar to the provisions in Rep Nugent’s bill HR 295). Monetary penalties are imposed for violations. As with the other bills, the Secretary of Commerce is “not compelled” to disclose the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The printed version of the bill was posted today. To read the bill go to:

Original url:


Other provisions of HR 531:

Once someone notifies the Secretary of the Treasury that their identity has been misused by another person in relation to IRS laws they Secretary has 90 days to determine the extent the taxpayer’s return and information were misused.

Permits sharing of information between federal law enforcement with state or local enforcement agencies who are engaged in the investigation of crimes implicated in misuse of the information and the law enforcement agency must be part of the team with the IRS in the investigation,

Establishes both monetary and imprisonment for using false identity in connection with tax fraud. Also increases the penalties for improper disclosure or use of information by tax preparers.

Requires the implementation by the Secretary of the Treasury of an identity tax theft fraud prevention program—a PIN system, as well as establishing additional triggers to prevent fraudulent tax refunds. An annual report on tax fraud submitted to Congress is required. The bill also authorizes a study on the use of prepaid debit cards and commercial tax preparation fraud.

Permits the Attorney General to award grants for investigation and prosecution of tax crimes.

We are expecting more bills addressing identity theft and access to the Death Master File to be introduced in this Congressional session.


Jan Meisels Allen

IAJGS Vice President

IAJGS Chairperson, Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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