“With all of the scams and attacks against tax professionals, the IRS is now requiring us to share our personal identifying information – social security number and date of birth- when we contact them on behalf our clients.” – by Trenda Hackett, CPA
If you have called the Practitioner Priority Service line or any toll-free IRS number after January 3, 2018, you may have been surprised to be asked by the IRS representative to provide your social security number and date of birth to authenticate who you are. While this additional layer of security may be due to recent scams concerning tax professionals – in particular issues reported about compromised CAF numbers – the IRS has not indicated whether this measure would be temporary or permanent. In fact, the IRS has not released a formal statement concerning this matter; however they have reached out directly to the tax professional community via an email from its Stakeholder Liaison offices.
In a recent email from the Stakeholder Liaison office to the tax professional community, the IRS wrote:
“The IRS continues to review its procedures to better protect sensitive taxpayer data. As part of this effort, the IRS will request additional information from tax professionals who contact us through the Practitioner Priority Service or any toll-free IRS telephone number.
This procedural change will require tax practitioners to provide personal information so that our customer service representatives may confirm their identities. This additional information may include data such as your Social Security number and your date of birth. This personal information, in addition to the CAF number, is necessary to verify the identities of the person to whom we are releasing taxpayer information.
We’ve also made an update to Form 2848, Power of Attorney, and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, that will require you to inform your client if you are using an Intermediate Service Provider to access client transcripts via the Transcript Delivery System. A box must be checked if you are using a third party. We define Intermediate Service Providers as privately owned companies that offer subscriptions to their software and/or services that the taxpayer’s authorized representative can use to retrieve, store, and display tax return data (personal or business) instead of obtaining tax information directly from the IRS. The IRS must know who is using our tools; and taxpayers must know when a party other than their authorized representative is involved in accessing their sensitive data.
We realize there have been a number of changes for tax professionals in recent weeks. But each change is intended to enhance protections for you and your clients. Unfortunately, business as usual is no longer an option. Cybercriminals are well-funded, persistent and adept at stealing data from outside the IRS and using it to eventually file fraudulent tax returns. As cybercriminals evolve, so must we.
As part of our efforts, we also have strengthened protections for IRS e-Services. If you are an e-Services account holder, we urge you to immediately upgrade your account through our new two-factor identity verification process. Some of you may need to complete this process by mail which could add 10 days or more to the process. Please, do not wait until the start of filing season or until you have an urgent need for one of the e-Services tools before updating your account.
In the future, we will be asking each e-Service user to sign a new user agreement intended to ensure that all tax professionals understand their security obligations. We will share this information with you in advance.
Protecting you and your clients from identity theft is a paramount issue for us. But we can’t do it alone. We need your help and your understanding as we continue to review and enhance our procedures. “
As of the date of this blog post, the IRS has not released a formal statement about this change in procedure. Stay tuned for blog updates about this matter.
Want to learn more about changes the IRS is making that impact you? The Tax Alliance Conference planning committee is bringing several speakers from the IRS to our June 5–7, 2018 conference. They will be on hand to answer your questions, join us for the conference. We don’t believe you will find better CPE especially when you consider the cost! Check it out at www.taxalliance.org.