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IRS Anti-Fraud Campaign

Increasingly, tax professionals are being targeted by identity thieves. These criminals – many of whom are sophisticated, organized syndicates - are redoubling their efforts to gather personal data to file fraudulent federal and state income tax returns.

This is why the Security Summit, the unprecedented partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and the private sector tax industry, came together to form a united and coordinated front against this common enemy. And, they are asking tax professionals nationwide to join this effort. In addition to new security safeguards initiated for 2016 and planned for 2017, the Security Summit has launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness among tax professionals: Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself.

It is a legal responsibility of businesses and individuals maintaining, sharing, transmitting, or storing taxpayer data to have safeguards in place to protect client information. Taxpayer data is defined as any information obtained or used in the preparation of a tax return. Data security includes all aspects of your business. It is important to view your administrative practices, facility protection, computer security, personnel & information systems. IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data contains some important tips for tax professionals including:

  • Assure that taxpayer data, including data left on hardware, is never left unsecured

  • Store taxpayer data in secure systems and encrypt information when transmitting across networks

  • Ensure any e-mails being sent or received, containing taxpayer data, are encrypted and secure

  • Make sure paper documents, computer disks, flash drives, and other media are kept in a secure location and restrict access to authorized users only

  • Terminate access to taxpayer information for anyone who is no longer employed by your business

  • Create security requirements for your entire staff regarding computer information systems, paper records, and use of taxpayer data

It is important and a must that tax professionals take an active role in protecting client data -and thereby, their business.