IRS updates e-Services user agreement

The Internal Revenue Service is planning to update its user agreement for taxpayers and tax professionals accessing its e-Services applications online in an effort to improve security.

In an email to tax professionals Friday, the IRS said that starting October 14, e-Services users, after entering their accounts, will see a pop-up asking them to accept the terms of the updated user agreement. The IRS is previewing what the agreement will look like at Preview Updated e-Services User Agreement; Launch Set for October 14 at www.irs.gov/eservices.

The IRS said it is strongly encouraging its e-Service users to read this content, because of the importance of these changes to improve security for users and taxpayers.

“The user agreement is not long, and may require some tax practitioners to review how they conduct business,” said the IRS. “Please, take a few minutes to preview this updated user agreement and be ready to accept its terms when asked.”

The IRS has had a number of security problems and data breaches in recent years on several of its e-Services such as its Get Transcript, Identity Protection PIN, Electronic Filing PIN, and FAFSA student financial aid data retrieval tool (see IRS falls short on authenticating online users to prevent data breaches).

The agency has needed to shut down several of the online applications, even in the midst of tax season, and put in place more sophisticated ways to validate users with multifactor authentication technology to make sure the tools aren’t being exploited by identity thieves and hackers. But as the IRS tries to close off various avenues for the tools to be exploited, cybercriminals find ways of getting around them, including through the computers of tax professionals by downloading malware onto them. The IRS has been partnering with state tax authorities, tax software vendors and major tax prep chains in a cooperative effort called the Security Summit to fight tax-related identity theft.

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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