The Internal Revenue Service is following through on its pledge to protect the electronic information of taxpayers and preparers by beefing up the identity validation process used to access its e-services tools.
E-Services is a suite 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.
Oct. 24 has been announced as the target date the new procedures go into effect. Here’s brief look at what’s involved:
First, starting in late October, e-services users will be required to re-register using the new Secure Access authentication process. All users will have to validate their identities using the process before they can access their accounts.
Secure Access is a two-factor authentication process that adds greater protections against attacks by cybercriminals. It uses a more rigorous process to prove users are who they claim to be. For first-time users, it requires identity proofing, financial verification and an activation code text. Returning users must submit their username/password credentials and a security code text.
Those who only use e-services for TIN Matching must re-register as well, but will have a more streamlined process. E-Services users who created a Get Transcript account after June 2016 will have their Secure Access registration migrated automatically to e-services. They will, however, have to change their passwords on Oct. 24.
Next, the IRS will have additional staff on Oct. 24 for the e-Help Desk and provide assistance for users having difficulty passing Secure Access measures. Assistance may include identity authentication by phone and an activation code by mail. The mail option will take five to 10 days for delivery.
The IRS announcement stresses that thinking ahead and not waiting until the last minute will ensure a better trip through these new security measures. “Users should ensure all credentials and certificates are up to date prior to Oct. 24. Those with upcoming filing requirements should consider filing early.”
In order to be prepared, check out Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools. For more information on TIN Matching re-registration, read the IRS notice Important Update for your E-Services Account.