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IRS Urges Tax Pros to Develop Security Plans

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jul 19, 2023

The IRS and its Security Summit partners began their annual education effort by releasing a Written Information Security Plan (WISP), which was developed by and for tax and industry professionals to keep customer and business information safe and secure.

The 28-page document provides a security plan designed to make data security planning easier for tax professionals, especially smaller practices. Summit members will highlight the template at each of five IRS Nationwide Tax Forums to be held this summer throughout the United States.

The WISP advises users on how to get started on a plan, including understanding security compliance requirements and professional responsibilities. It continues with an outline for a basic WISP and a sample template, which is intended to give tax professionals a place to start in understanding and attempting to draft a plan for their business. The WISP is just one part of what tax professionals need to protect their clients and themselves, the IRS noted.

A good WISP focuses on three areas, the IRS advised. They are employee management and training; information systems; and detecting and managing system failures.

"Tax professionals form a critical part of the defense against identity thieves and scammers," IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. "The IRS and Security Summit partners remain vigilant to emerging identity theft schemes and scams, but tax professionals following the steps outlined in the security plan will provide valuable protection to their practices as well as their clients."

"It's more important than ever for tax pros to protect their data, passwords and other information," said Kimberly Rogers, director of the IRS Return Preparer Office and co-chair of the Summit's Tax Pro Working Group. "With cyberattacks against tax professionals continuing, having a sound security plan makes not only good business sense, it's also the law. But knowing where to start can be challenging. The Security Summit members worked together on this plan to make it easier for all tax professionals to develop an approach that is right for them."

The Security Summit was formed by the IRS in 2015 to combat identity theft refund fraud to protect the nation's taxpayers. It consists of IRS, state tax agencies and the tax community, including tax preparation firms, software developers, payroll and tax financial product processors, tax professional organizations and financial institutions. Total membership includes 42 state agencies and 20 industry offices in addition to the IRS. 

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