Okay. We understand that it is a public service announcement. But it is ironic that the IRS is providing recommendations to tax return preparers on protecting client information (IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data). The guidance is good. But, shouldn’t the IRS be leading by example? Here, we have a federal agency that allows dishonest employees to steal taxpayers’ identities and has systems that do not adequately protect the sensitive data of taxpayers as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who had their identities stolen due to inadequate security measures. We have prisoners filing false tax returns in the thousands, and the IRS has no systems in place to know that an inordinate amount of tax returns are showing the same address, and that address being a federal prison. When will Congress give the IRS the power and funds to shut down the tax shops run by unlicensed and unethical tax preparers that file false returns and steal taxpayer SSNs?
The IRS has reminded tax return preparers that they are prime targets for identity thieves who seek data to use on fraudulent tax returns. The IRS recommends that return preparers have: (1) top-notch security software that includes a firewall, anti-malware and antivirus programs that are set to automatically update so that the software stays current against the latest threats; (2) an education program for all employees to ensure they understand the dangers of phishing emails and other threats to taxpayer data; (3) strong passwords that are changed periodically; (4) a secure wireless connection; (5) frequent back-ups of taxpayer data; (6) any paper files stored in a secure location; and (7) frequent access to IRS e-services to confirm the number of returns filed under the preparer’s EFIN.
In our practice, we take protecting our clients’ documents very seriously and implemented procedures that exceed those suggested by the IRS years ago.
If you want to discuss your business or personal tax planning and tax preparation concerns with an experienced tax professional, we invite you to call 610-594-2601 today to make an appointment at our Exton PA CPA office to discuss your situation. You can also schedule a consultation at Click Here.