IRS STRENGTHENS SECURITY OF E-SERVICES REGISTRATION

Washington, D.C. -- 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 want to use e-Services tools must register online and create an 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 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 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 character, 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 re-use the last 24 passwords.

E-mail notifications will be sent 30 days and again 20 days in advance of the password expiration (the 10-day e-mail 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 on IRS.gov to learn what is needed to register.

 

IRS CHIEF WARNS CONGRESS OF POSSIBLE DELAY TO TAX SEASON

Washington, D.C. -- Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen wrote a letter to the leaders of Congress' main tax committees urging them to decide soon on what to do about extending dozens of expired tax provisions, or else next tax season and the processing of tax refunds could be delayed.

"Making this decision in a timely manner will allow the IRS to implement Congress' decision without unnecessary disruptions and delays to the upcoming 2015 tax filing season, and it will provide certainty for millions of taxpayers who are affected by the expired provisions," Koskinen wrote in early October to the leaders of both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

He mentioned that the IRS's operational preparations for the 2015 tax season are "in full swing."

The agency has been training its customer service employees, revising tax forms and publications, and programming its technology systems to reflect changes in the tax laws. However, the uncertainty over the tax extenders is raising risks, including for tax professionals, Koskinen warned.

"If Congress waits until 2015 and then enacts retroactive tax law changes affecting 2014, the operational and compliance challenges would be even more severe - likely resulting in service disruptions, millions of taxpayers needing to file amended returns, and substantially delayed refunds," he wrote.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., posted Koskinen's letter on his committee's Web site and noted that his committee had passed legislation to extend many of the expired tax breaks. "It has been over six months since the Finance Committee passed the EXPIRE Act with strong bipartisan support," he said in a statement. "As the 2015 filing season begins to loom large, it is more urgent than ever that Congress moves in a decisive and bipartisan way to renew expired tax provisions that will give taxpayers the certainty they need to plan their finances."

 

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