IRS National Tax Security Awareness Week

New Security Measures Help Protect Against Tax-Related Identity Theft



WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today marked the second day of National Tax Security Awareness Week by announcing an improved feature that will be available on all 2021 online tax preparation products.

Designed to protect both taxpayers and tax professionals, multi-factor authentication means the returning user must enter two pieces of data to securely access an account or application. For example, taxpayers must enter their credentials (username and password) plus a numerical code sent as a text to their mobile phone.

The agreement to add the multi-factor authentication feature is just one publicly visible example of the ongoing collaboration by the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, which work together as the Security Summit. 2020 marks the fifth year of the Security Summit and of National Tax Security Awareness Week.

“Multi-factor authentication option is an easy, free way to really step up protection of your data whether you’re a taxpayer or a tax professional,” said Chuck Rettig, IRS Commissioner. “This is an important step being taken by the tax software industry. This is just one example of the many actions taken by the Summit partners over the past five years that have dramatically improved our ability to combat identity thieves and to protect taxpayers.”

Some online products previously offered multi-factor authentication. However, for 2021 all providers agreed to make it a standard feature and all agreed that it would meet requirements set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Multi-factor authentication may not be available on over-the-counter hard disk tax products.

Because the multi-factor authentication option is voluntary, Summit partners urged both taxpayers and tax professionals to use it. Multi-factor authentication can reduce the likelihood of identity theft by making it difficult for thieves to get access to sensitive accounts.

Users should check the security section in their online tax product account to make the change. It may be labeled as two-factor authentication or two-step verification or similar names.

Use of multi-factor authentication is especially important for tax professionals who continue to be prime targets of identity thieves. Of the numerous data thefts reported to the IRS from tax professional offices this year, most could have been avoided had the practitioner used multi-factor authentication to protect tax software accounts.

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Source: IRS

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