The Internal Revenue Service is planning a series of actions in the coming months to improve e-Services usability and security on the online apps.

The goal, according to the IRS, is a better product for tax professionals that will better protect them and their clients. “All e-Services users will be affected by these actions,” the IRS said in an email to tax professionals Wednesday.

IRS building sign

In recent years, the IRS has experienced security breaches from identity thieves targeting several of its online self-service applications, including the Get Transcript app, the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN), the e-file PIN, and this past tax season the data retrieval tool for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is now moving to a more secure technology with improved user authentication. The new apps were originally scheduled to be rolled out this summer, but were delayed.
The IRS said there will be three parts to the improvement effort:

1. As it moves to a new e-Services program that is set to debut September 7, the IRS warned it will be taking various products offline to complete the transition by September 12. (This step is unrelated to the planned outage of e-Services over Labor Day weekend.) Information about the outage is on IRS.gov/e-Services.

2. In late October, tax pros will be asked to review and accept the terms of a new user agreement for the e-Services. Tax professionals using the services of certain intermediate service providers to access client transcripts will have additional requirements to meet, the IRS warned.

3. In late October, all e-Services users will need to register through Secure Access authentication. The two-factor authentication process will require returning users to enter their username and password, along with a security code sent to the user. Also in late October, the IRS plans to update the IRS2Go app with a new feature that will allow e-Services users to get the necessary security code through the app or via text to a mobile phone.

The IRS advised tax pros to see “Important Information about Your e-Services Account” on the e-Services landing page, www.irs.gov/eservices, to see how these improvements will affect them. The IRS emphasized that all e-Services users would be affected by the upgrade.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.