It’s no secret that identity thieves use stolen personally identifiable information (PII) to fraudulently file tax returns, which is why the Internal Revenue Service and members of the tax industry have been working diligently to improve data security for taxpayers and tax professionals alike.
According to a recent Internal Revenue Service press release, the agency has plugged one of the avenues that criminals were abusing to get their hands on taxpayer data: faxed tax transcripts. The decision to end the practice comes just a few months after the IRS started hiding certain data points on the transcript, like employer information.
The IRS release seemed to acknowledge that these “masked” transcripts could be problematic for tax professionals who sometimes need access to that information on prior-year returns. While paid tax return preparers could specifically request the IRS fax an unmasked transcript, the agency announced it would begin sending transcripts to the e-Services mailboxes of specifically qualified tax pros before completely ending the fax program on February 4, 2019. This change in direction underscores the IRS’ commitment to only transmitting sensitive PII via services that are known to be secure.
Source: IRS Newswire