Safeguarding taxpayer information should be a top priority for you as a tax preparer as well as for each employee in your office. Understanding and meeting your responsibility to protect taxpayer information by putting safeguards in place not only will help prevent fraud and identity theft, but it will also enhance customer confidence and trust.
The Federal Trade Commission has developed specific processes and best practices for tax preparers, data processors, their affiliates, and service providers who are significantly involved in providing products or services.
- Take responsibility or assign an individual to be responsible for safeguards.
- Assess the risks to taxpayer information in your office to include your operations, physical environment, computer systems, and employees. Make a list of all the locations where taxpayer information is kept (such as computers, filing cabinets, bags, and boxes taxpayers may bring to you).
- Write a plan of how you will safeguard information. Put appropriate safeguards in place. (Failure to have a written plan may result in a FTC investigation.)
- Use only service providers who have policies to also maintain an adequate level of information protection.
- Monitor, evaluate, and adjust your security program as your business or circumstances change..
Publication 4557 will help you:
- Preserve the confidentiality and privacy of taxpayer data by restricting access and disclosure;
- Protect the integrity of taxpayer data by preventing improper or unauthorized modification or destruction;
- Maintain the availability of taxpayer data by providing timely and reliable access and data recovery.