February 8, 2020

IRS: TIGTA Audit Shows the IRS Once Again Fails to Protect and SecureTaxpayer Information and Data

IRS Security of Taxpayer Information and Data 

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ("TIGTA") recently released the results of an audit they performed, in which the agency examined "the adequacy of and adherence to the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) volunteer site requirements to safeguard and protect sensitive taxpayer information."

Here are the services the the IRS Volunteer Program Sites provide, according to the audit:
"The program provides no-cost Federal tax return preparation and electronic filing to underserved segments of individual taxpayers, including low- to moderate-income, elderly, disabled, and limited-English-proficient taxpayers.  The Volunteer Program includes the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs and sites operated in partnership with the U.S. military and community-based organizations.  The program is managed by the IRS’s Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication (SPEC) function."
Unfortunately, the audit's findings did not surprise me.  (You can view the audit report here.)  Among the disturbing findings:
  1. The IRS did not require that each IRS Volunteer Program Site have in place an adequate plan to protect and safeguard taxpayer data and information; and
  2. Volunteers who prepared tax and filed tax returns for taxpayers were allowed to electronically access and view tax returns after they had been filed.   In other words, the volunteers were allowed to snoop through IRS taxpayer data and records.
This is so wrong, it's beyond words.  Can anyone tell me how the IRS is allowed to exempt its own  programs from having adequate security measures in place to protect and safeguard taxpayer data, when, as a financial services professional, I am required by federal law to have such measures in my place for my clients?

The IRS continues to woefully fail in implementing ... even requiring ... adequate measures to protect and secure taxpayer information and data.   That's not only wrong, but criminal in my opinion.  Taxpayers deserve better.  Much better.

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About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

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