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Social Security Numbers on State Tax Forms Scrambled This Year for Security Purposes

January 06, 2000

BATON ROUGE - In response to privacy concerns expressed by taxpayers, the Department of Revenue has scrambled the numerals of the taxpayer''s Social Security Number on all pre-printed Louisiana individual income tax booklets that are being mailed to taxpayers this year, Revenue Secretary Brett Crawford says.

"Scrambling the Social Security Number may be confusing to some taxpayers," Secretary Crawford says. "At first glance, they may think that an error has occurred in the printing, but I can assure them everything is correct and readable by our processing equipment."

Secretary Crawford says the scrambling was done to protect the privacy and security of the taxpayer. "Openly printing someone''s Social Security Number in the address and scan line areas of an unsecured booklet that is sent by third-class bulk rate mail is no longer acceptable in this day and time. This year, we designed the computer program used by our electronic scanner processing equipment to read a scrambled Social Security Number," Secretary Crawford says.

On the pre-addressed booklets that are mailed to taxpayers, the name, address and Social Security Number are pre-printed in specific areas on the form. Secretary Crawford says this pre-printed information is read faster and easier by the Department''s automatic electronic scanning equipment than if it was handwritten by the taxpayer. "That is why we pre-print the information on the form," Crawford says. "It speeds processing and the taxpayer gets any refund due much faster."

Secretary Crawford says as an added insurance, taxpayers are also required to hand-print their Social Security Numbers on a particular line of the form. He says the electronic processing equipment will automatically compare the scrambled number with the taxpayer''s hand-printed number in order to ensure proper credit to the taxpayer.