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Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: Monitor Your EFIN for Suspicious Activity

Identity thieves increasingly target tax professionals. A thief who breaches the data of one tax return preparer can gain hundreds or thousands of taxpayers’ data. One way you can monitor for suspicious activity is to check how many federal tax returns have been filed with your Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).

As part of the ongoing concerns about security and identity theft, the IRS recommends that you verify the number of returns submitted under your EFIN. Do this routinely and especially during filing season.

Verify your EFIN through IRS e-Services. If you do not have an e-Services account, then your first step would be to go to e-Services and register for an account.

Once you have logged into your e-Services account, follow these steps to verify the number of returns electronically filed with the IRS:

Affordable Care Act: What Employers with Fewer than 50 Employees Need to Know

As an employer, the number of employees you have during the last calendar year determines which parts of the health care law apply to your organization. If you are an employer with fewer than 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, here are three things to know about how the health care law affects you.

Information Reporting

·         If you offer employer-sponsored self-insured health coverage to your employees, you will use Form 1095-B, Health Coverage Information Return to report information to covered individuals about each person enrolled in coverage. The deadline for filing this form with the IRS is February 28, 2017, or March 31, 2017 if filing electronically. The deadline for furnishing this form to the covered individual is March 2, 2017, which is a 30-day extension from the original due date of January 31.

Tax Credit

How the IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights Works

 

Taxpayers have fundamental rights under the law. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” presents these rights in 10 categories. This helps taxpayers when they interact with the IRS.

Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of taxpayer rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them. Here is a wrap-up of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights:

1. The Right to Be Informed.

Taxpayers have the right to know what is required to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the laws and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices and correspondence. They have the right to know about IRS decisions affecting their accounts and clear explanations of the outcomes.

2. The Right to Quality Service.

What to Do If You Suffer a Data Breach or Other Security Incident

Tax professionals are increasingly targets of cybercriminals seeking access to client data. Criminals use the stolen information to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. Be prepared to protect your clients and yourself by taking a few critical steps.

Should you experience a data compromise, there are certain basic steps you should take. For a comprehensive list of security actions, consult a security professional. Also see Data Theft Information for Tax Professionals on IRS.gov.

Preliminary steps include:

Contact the IRS and law enforcement:

Safeguarding Taxpayer Data – Secure Your Office

Tax professionals can help protect taxpayer data by looking around their own offices. It’s more important than ever that tax professionals take aggressive steps to protect taxpayer information. Securing office space is as important as securing computers.

In assessing how secure your office is, consider these questions:

Employers and Coverage Providers: 11 Facts About Health Care Information Forms

Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies, self-insured companies, and large businesses and businesses that provide health insurance to their employees must submit information returns to the IRS and individuals reporting on health coverage. 

Taxpayers can use the information on these forms when they file their tax returns to verify the months that they had minimum essential coverage and determine if they satisfied the individual shared responsibility provision of the health care law. The IRS will use the information on the statements to verify the months of the individual’s coverage.

Here is some information about the types of forms, the purpose of each, and noteworthy dates

Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage

Safeguarding Taxpayer Data – How to Get Started

Tax professionals must safeguard taxpayer data by law. It is also critical to tax preparers’ business success. Protect your clients and yourself by taking a few common sense steps.

You can seek advice from security consultants or insurance companies. IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, also offers tips on how to get started.

These best practices include: