NSA Executive Vice President and Member of the IRS Advisory Council, John Ams participated in today’s IRS Security Summit to review 2016 accomplishments and announce initiatives for 2017.
Fewer people became victims of tax-related identity theft during the 2016 filing season. Summit partners reported a 40% decrease in taxpayers who said their identity was stolen and a 60% decrease in the number of suspicious returns.
Looking to the next filing season, the summit voiced concern with the security of tax preparers, who are the next logical target for identity theft. The IRS announced a new outreach “Protect Your Clients, Protect Yourself” as an upcoming initiative to protect tax preparers from potential security threats.
In response to this concern, NSA will be meeting with the IRS Commissioner in August to provide suggestions to improve the Power of Attorney process for tax professionals, suggestions for e-service improvements and to discuss support for increased IRS budget appropriations.
A few of the 2016 Security Summit highlights include:
- New protocols required all individual tax software customers to update their security credentials to a minimum eight-digit password and establish security questions.
- Software providers shared approximately 20 data elements from tax returns with the IRS and states to help identify possible fraud. These elements are confidential but include information to identify returns prepared quickly by automated programs.
- Industry partners performed regular reviews to identify possible identity theft schemes and report them to the IRS and state partners to help stay on top of emerging schemes.
- Summit partners launched a “Taxes. Security. Together” campaign to increase public awareness about the need for computer security and provide people with tips on how to protect their personal information.
A few 2017 initiatives include:
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- Expanding a W-2 Verification Code test to cover approximately 50 million forms in 2017. The selected forms contain a 16-digit code that taxpayers and tax preparers enter when prompted by software. The code helps validate not only the taxpayer’s identity but also the information on the form. This pilot is among the most visible Summit action for 2017.
- Identifying additional data elements from tax returns that will help improve authentication of the taxpayer and identify possible identity theft scams and sharing data elements from corporate tax returns.
- Launching the Identity Theft Tax Refund Fraud Information Sharing & Analysis Center (IDTTRF-ISAC) in 2017. This will serve as the early warning system for partners, collecting and analyzing tax-related identity theft schemes.