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DOR is sharing the following IRS “Taxes-Security-Together” checklist to increase awareness amongst taxpayers, and specifically tax professionals, about safeguarding private taxpayer information.


The “Taxes-Security-Together” Checklist

Some tax pros may routinely overlook these checklist items and others need to regularly revisit them. The steps are not only important for tax practitioners, but for taxpayers as well. Everyone has a responsibility to protect sensitive data.

The Taxes-Security-Together checklist highlights key security features

  • Deploy the “Security Six” measures:
    • Activate anti-virus software.
    • Use a firewall.
    • Opt for two-factor authentication when it’s offered.
    • Use backup software/services.
    • Use Drive encryption.
    • Create and secure Virtual Private Networks.
  • Create a data security plan:
    • Federal law requires all “professional tax preparers” to create and maintain an information security plan for client data.
    • The security plan requirement is flexible enough to fit any size of tax preparation firm, from small to large.
    • Tax professionals are asked to focus on key risk areas such as employee management and training; information systems; and detecting and managing system failures.
  • Educate yourself and be alert to key email scams, a frequent risk area involving:
    • Learn about spear phishing emails.
    • Beware ransomware.
  • Recognize the signs of client data theft:
    • Clients receive IRS letters about suspicious tax returns in their name.
    • More tax returns filed with a practitioner’s Electronic Filing Identification Number than submitted.
    • Clients receive tax transcripts they did not request.
  • Create a data theft recovery plan including:
    • Contact the local IRS Stakeholder Liaison immediately.
    • Assist the IRS in protecting clients’ accounts.
    • Contract with a cybersecurity expert to help prevent and stop thefts.

Resources available for tax professionals

Tax professionals also can get help with security recommendations by reviewing IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security: the Fundamentals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals, provides a compilation of data theft information available on IRS.gov. Also, tax professionals should stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals and Social Media.

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