The IRS has issued a security alert warning tax preparers to ensure that the number of filings they’ve made using their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) matches IRS records.
Crooks increasingly are targeting tax preparers’ PTINs and other electronic passwords, the IRS states. The IRS is working with state tax agencies and tax professionals to increase awareness of the threat.
Preparers can monitor their PTIN filings by going on the IRS website and logging into their account. Find “Additional Activities” on the main menu, and then go to “view returns filed per PTIN.”
To sign into the PTIN site, preparers must be an enrolled agent, CPA, attorney, enrolled retirement plan agent or enrolled actuary, or a participant in the IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program.
They also must have at least 50 tax returns from the Form 1040 series processed in the current year.
If the PTIN return site shows nothing, it means that fewer than 50 returns were processed using the preparer’s PTIN.
The IRS updates the information weekly. If the number of returns indicated as processed is significantly more than the number of tax returns filed, and misuse of a PTIN is suspected, preparers should submit Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.
On July 6, the IRS released its first fact sheet as part of a new data security initiative aimed at tax professionals.
The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign is intended to raise awareness among practitioners on their responsibilities to protect their clients’ personal and financial information from cyberthieves and steps they can take to safeguard that data.
This new effort is an expansion of the Security Summit, a partnership between the IRS, state tax agencies, and the tax industry, to combat tax-related identity theft and refund fraud.
About Terry Sheridan
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.