IRS masks some ID data on transcripts

The word "Taxes" on the facade of the IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The word "Taxes" is seen on the facade of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

With an eye to thwarting cybercrooks, the IRS has begun to mask some ID information on tax transcripts.

The agency said the new transcript format will display only:

  • The last four digits of any Social Security number and employer identification number;
  • The last four digits of any account or phone number;
  • The first four characters of the last name for any individual (the first three characters if the last name has only four letters);
  • The first four characters of a business name;
  • The first six characters of the street address, including spaces; and,
  • All money amounts, including wage and income, balance due, interest and penalties.

This is the new default transcript through all platforms, including online, toll-free and the Transcript Delivery System, the IRS said, adding that the format is for individual transcripts only, not business transcripts. Financial entries on all redacted transcripts continue to be visible.

The agency noted that practitioners who are preparing prior-year tax returns have other options to obtain the wages, income and taxes paid for non-filing individuals.

The IRS has introduced a revised 4506-T and 4506T-EZ to include a new field for a Customer File Number, an optional field for the requester to use as an identifier because the Social Security number will no longer be fully visible. Requesters may use any 10-digit number except the taxpayer’s Social Security number. Tax professionals requesting transcripts through the e-Services Transcript Delivery System may assign a Customer File Number to the transcript, according to the IRS.

CPAs, enrolled agents and attorneys can register for IRS e-Services tools to get access to the TDS without being an electronic return originator and can have access to the TDS and obtain a transcript immediately. Other preparers must either be part of an electronic return originator’s file or become an authorized IRS e-file provider and file tax returns to access the TDS, the agency added.

The IRS is also reviewing how it distributes tax transcripts and has proposed changes to that process, adding that the agency plans to stop faxing transcripts to both taxpayers and to third parties. The IRS also plans to stop mailing transcripts to third parties listed on line 5a of the 4506-T and T-EZ.

More information is available on this fact sheet and the FAQs page on IRS.gov.

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