It’s never too early to start planning for the next tax season. For millions of tax pros, that means figuring how to make their operations more secure.
One answer is to talk to your clients about signing up for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN. To keep the process secure, your clients have to sign up for their own IP PIN; you cannot do it for them. But once it’s in place, an IP PIN can be a vital brick in the defensive wall around your client’s tax information.
Do my clients need an IP PIN?
As we all become more cautious about cybersecurity, securing an IP PIN is an easy step for the client to take. This simple six-digit number is known only by the individual taxpayer and the IRS. The number should only be shared with a trusted tax professional.
The number itself is entered—usually next to the signature line on paper returns—to validate the taxpayer’s identity to the IRS, and may help speed processing. To maintain security, tax pros should not store clients’ IP PINs on their computer systems.
How do my clients get an IP PIN?
Signing up for an IP PIN, of course, is voluntary. Once issued, the IP PIN is good for one calendar year; the taxpayer will have to apply for a new one each year.
The IRS has an online tool, Get an IP PIN, where taxpayers can sign up. The IRS’ identity validation process could be time consuming, so taxpayers should check out Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools before they start.
If your clients can’t get through the online process and their income meets certain parameters, use Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number to apply.
If your clients can’t validate their identities, they won’t be issued an IP PIN.
Where can I get more security help?
Security recommendations are available to tax professionals through IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Additional information is also available from Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals and the IRS’ Identity Theft Central webpages.