The Internal Revenue Service has strengthened the security of its e-Services registration process for tax professionals and taxpayers as identity theft and data breaches have become a greater concern.
In order to improve and increase security, changes to e-services registration were implemented Sunday, Sept. 28. The IRS noted that all tax professionals who wish to use e-Services tools must register online to create a user account. Users must be eligible to use one of the online tools before they can register.
e-Services is a set of Web-based tools that allow tax professionals and payers to complete certain transactions online with the IRS. The tools include Registration Services, e-file Application, Transcript Delivery and TIN Matching. These services are only available to approved IRS business partners as noted below and not to the public.
A series of challenge questions have been added to allow users to unlock their own account. New users will be presented with the challenge questions during the registration process. Existing users will be presented with the challenge questions the first time they log on. The challenge questions will not be available for forgotten passwords until sometime in November, the IRS noted.
Users will no longer receive a 15-minute timeout after three unsuccessful login attempts since they will be able to unlock their account by answering the challenge questions. If the user cannot correctly answer the challenge questions, their account will be locked and they will have to use the Forgotten or Lost Password or PIN function to unlock it.
Users will not be allowed to enter their Social Security number as part of their username or password.
Passwords will be required to contain at least one numeric, one uppercase and one lowercase letter, and one special character (except for ^, < and >). The system will force any user whose password does not meet the new requirements to update their password the next time they login.
Users will not be able to reuse the last 24 passwords.
Email notifications will be sent 30 days and again 20 days in advance of the password expiration (the 10-day email notification will still be used, the IRS noted).
There are also several changes in the registration screen: The word "expired" will be removed; TIN will be changed to SSN/ITIN; username rules will be updated; help screens for password and username will be updated; a password link will be added; and only five digits will be allowed for the PIN.
For more information, visit Registration Services to learn what is needed to register, to confirm a registration or to manage a user account. Authorized business partners who need assistance using the online tools can contact the e-help Desk at 1-866-255-0654. International callers need to dial 512-416-7750.
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