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IRS: Security Threats Against Tax Pros Remain a Daily Threat

The IRS and its Security Summit partners announced the start of its annual "Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself" campaign.

Tax practitioners continue to be targeted on a daily basis by cybercriminals whose objective is to steal their clients’ data so they can file fraudulent tax returns that better impersonate their victims and are harder to detect, the IRS warned on July 2.

Through the spring, IRS stakeholder liaisons had received reports of nearly 200 tax professional data incidents potentially affecting up to 180,000 clients. Just last week, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins said in her mid-year report to Congress that as of this past April, the IRS was taking more than 22 months to resolve identity theft victims’ assistance cases, plus several weeks to issue refunds, and it had approximately 500,000 unresolved cases in its inventory.

“Security threats against tax professionals and their sensitive taxpayer information continue to evolve, and it’s critical to stay on top of the latest developments to protect their business and their clients,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement on Tuesday.

The IRS and its Security Summit partners today announced the start of the special summer Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself campaign to help tax professionals protect themselves against new and ongoing threats involving tax-related identity theft.

The campaign is part of the larger effort by the Summit coalition of the IRS, state tax agencies, and the nation’s tax community to combat tax-related identity theft that has been in place since 2015.

“The Security Summit effort between the IRS, states, and the nation’s tax industry has worked to protect taxpayers and tax returns from identity thieves, and tax professionals form a key part of these security defenses,” Werfel said. “It’s critical that everyone in the tax professional community, including smaller practices, stay current on the latest developments to keep their systems safe and protect their clients.”

The IRS and its Security Summit partners hope to raise awareness among tax professionals this summer about the importance of maintaining strong security, and what to do if a security incident occurs. This effort comes just ahead of the IRS’s Nationwide Tax Forum on July 9 in Chicago. 

“There are special steps that tax professionals need to take to protect themselves from scammers trying to obtain sensitive information in attempts to file fraudulent state and federal tax returns,” Sharonne Bonardi, executive director of the Federation of Tax Administrators representing state tax agencies and a co-chair of the Summit’s communications team, said in a statement. “Continued vigilance by tax professionals is a critical part of the larger effort needed to protect tax information at the state and federal level.”