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IRS will tighten tax professional access to portal

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The Internal Revenue Service could make it harder for tax professionals to logon to a portal for electronically filing clients' returns, according to a new audit for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

In order to gain access to the IRS's Registered User Portal, which holds a suite of IRS online services, including electronic filing, tax professionals must register with the IRS. Portal registration requires a "suitability check," including a criminal history investigation.

Tax professionals who e-file at least five returns per year are allowed to delegate logon access to other professionals, by filing a power of attorney with the tax agency. The delegated professionals do not undergo a background check.

"We believe the power of attorney document does not provide the same assurance as the suitability check," auditors state. Any individual--not just a member of the same firm--can become a delegated user, the audit states.

"A delegated user could steal taxpayer data for identity theft purposes and grant access to other unscrupulous individuals," it says.

In the tax agency's official response to the audit, Richard Byrd, wage and investment division commissioner, said the IRS will start implementing suitability checks on delegate users "subject to available funding."

For more:
- read TIGTA report 2010-20-027 (.pdf)

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