IRS New Platform Lets Tax Preparers Use Outside Software to Access Client Databy
The IRS has announced a new platform, user agreement and authentication process for its e-Services that will allow tax preparers to access client data from software or other services provided by private companies.
A new e-Services user agreement will be introduced in late October, and registered users of the platform will be required to accept the new terms.
The new agreement will require users to keep their accounts and applications current within 30 days of any changes. Usernames, passwords and PINs must be kept confidential. The IRS advises contacting the Help Desk if there is unauthorized use of your account.
The agreement also will address an “emerging service” to tax preparers by what the IRS terms Intermediate Service Providers. These providers are privately owned companies that offer subscriptions to their software or services.
Authorized e-Services users can log into their accounts and the service provider will retrieve client transcripts, present them in various formats and may store the transcripts for future use.
This will require certain procedures: Users must ensure that the company is not storing usernames, passwords or PINs, and clients must be notified that an Intermediate Service Provider has access to their tax information.
The IRS notes that the requirements for these intermediate providers won’t affect most e-Services users.
To move the e-Services products to a new platform, the entire program will be offline at various times beginning early in September. Here’s the schedule:
- E-Services registration will be unavailable beginning at 6 a.m. ET Sept. 7. The redesigned e-Services landing page will be available at that time. Visitors to the old landing page will be redirected to the new page.
- Applications for e-file providers, TIN matching service, Income Verification Express Service and ACA providers will be unavailable from 6 a.m. ET Sept. 7 to 6 a.m. ET Sept. 12.
- TIN matching will be unavailable from 10 p.m. ET Sept. 8 to 6 a.m. ET Sept. 11.
- Transcript delivery will be unavailable from 10 p.m. ET Sept. 8 to 6 a.m. ET Sept. 11.
- State users won’t be able to submit new or change existing e-File and transcript delivery service applications from Sept. 7 until late October.
In late October, e-Services will be protected by Secure Access dual authentication. Once registered, users must enter their username and password, and a six-digit security code to access their account. This is an added measure to boost cybersecurity efforts. Cybercrooks have targeted e-Services users in an effort to steal usernames and passwords.
All e-Services users will be required to register through Secure Access and authenticate their identities. The only exception is for users who authenticated through Secure Access by registering for a Get Transcript Online account after June 2016.
Secure Access authentication typically relies on a text-enabled mobile phone. But in late October, the IRS will launch a new feature on its IRS2Go app.
The app will generate a security code for users without being connected to the internet. It can be downloaded for free from the iTunes app store, Google Play and Amazon. It can be installed on smartphones and tablets.
Terry Sheridan is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate, mortgage finance, health care, insurance, personal finance, and accounting and taxation issues for newspapers, magazines, and websites. A Chicago native and former South Florida resident, she now lives in New England.