IRS Scaling Back on Customer Service Exposes Business Owners to Identity Theft

In most organizations, management strives to continually improve customer service. According to Accounting Today, the IRS embodies the opposite approach with plans to scale back customer service by relying more on technology and less on live representatives. Business owners faced with unique or complicated issues or attempting to resolve inconsistencies will find it even more difficult to get assistance.

The IRS is already notorious for their lack of responsiveness. We can anticipate customer service will only continue to decline with an increased reliance on automated phone services and website interactions and limited access to live IRS representatives. While business owners will benefit in some ways from the IRS entry into the electronic world, technological issues continue to plague the organization. Without the proper protocols and securities in place, the IRS is not prepared internally for a full push into the electronic age.

In fact, the IRS may be inadvertently opening up taxpayers to identity theft.

  • Business owners benefit from online access to payment information so discrepancies in payments can be identified and corrected prior to filing returns, reducing penalties and interest. While Illinois currently provides this access to individual taxpayers, the IRS does not. And even with Illinois, this data is not private or secure. Anyone with a taxpayer’s social security number and last name can access that taxpayer’s payment data.
  • Cyber thieves compromised the identities of some 330,000 taxpayers last year.
  • According to the Journal of Accountancy, in February 2016 the IRS discovered a cyberattack on their e-filing personal identification number (PIN) system. Cybercriminals successfully used over 100,000 social security numbers to access e-file PINs. The IRS managed issues for affected taxpayers and is monitoring to prevent further breaches, but the issue raised public awareness of IRS security issues.
  • According to com, Congress is getting involved in trying to reduce threat to taxpayer security.

Business owners can manage the continually diminishing availability of IRS services by reducing the need for interaction completely. As accounting professionals, we at Cray Kaiser are vigilant about catching potential issues before filing, diminishing the need for any contact with the IRS after filing. Our team ensures that returns are filed correctly the first time, avoiding IRS attention. We ask the questions before the IRS does. We educate our clients about IRS expectations and how to get ahead of potential issues. Should an audit situation arise, we know preparation helps guide toward a successful outcome. If issues are present that might draw IRS attention, we create a plan so that we are prepared for any IRS response.

While it’s not a surprise to see the IRS becoming less and less available to taxpayers and accounting professionals, it’s definitely an exasperating and time-depleting issue. Fortunately, using accounting professionals who are proactive and vigilant when preparing returns and other tax filings prevents most IRS customer service needs and reduces the impact on business owners.

 

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