Taxes. Security. Together. We all have a role to play in protecting your data

We need your help.

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, working together as the Security Summit, have made significant progress in the fight against tax-related identity theft. Since 2015, the partnership has taken numerous steps to better protect your data. Despite these successes, identity theft remains a threat. There is much work to do, but we can't do it alone.

We are asking you - taxpayers, tax professionals and businesses - to join with us to create an even stronger partnership. Our "Taxes. Security. Together" awareness campaign is an effort to better inform you about the actions you can take to protect your sensitive data.

Events and campaigns

Prior years campaigns:  

How taxpayers can help

We've listed a few common-sense suggestions that can make a big difference. Also see Publication 4524, Security Awareness for TaxpayersPDF or Publicación 4524SP, Concientización sobre la seguridad para los contribuyentesPDF

A few highlights:

  • Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records you store on your computer. Use strong, unique passwords for each account.
  • If you do your own taxes online, use your provider's multi-factor authentication option to protect your online account. This multi-factor or 2-factor authentication will help prevent thieves from accessing your online tax account and stealing your information. Multi-factor authentication is now commonly offered to protect other accounts such as social media, email and others. Please use multi-factor authentication wherever it is an option.
  • Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, threatening calls and texts from thieves posing as legitimate organizations such as your bank, credit card company and even the IRS. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious emails.
  • Protect your personal data. Don't routinely carry your Social Security card, and make sure your tax records are secure. Shop at reputable online retailers. Treat your personal information like you do your cash; don't leave it lying around.

How tax professionals can help

Tax preparers are critical and valued partners in the tax administration process, and they have an important role to play in helping prevent identity theft.

Tax practitioners should review their own security features. More and more, tax professionals are the targets of identity thieves. See identity theft information for tax professionals for basic steps to protecting client data and what to do if targeted by cybercriminals.

Tax preparers can share Publication 4524PDF with clients to help raise awareness about important security steps.

Practitioners also should complete the "know your customer" information fields that may be on the electronic Forms 1040 and Forms 1120 series.

See our protect your clients; protect yourself page for information about this campaign and additional security information.

How businesses can help

Business and other organizations, especially trusts, estates and partnerships, should be aware that they too can be victims of identity theft. Criminals may file Forms 1120, 1120S or Schedule K-1 in their names. See identity theft guide for business, partnerships and estate and trusts for more details.

Businesses and other organizations also can help combat identity theft by helping educate their employees, clients and customers. Businesses can share Publication 4524PDF or create their own messages urging employees, clients or customers to protect their data and beware of phishing emails, the most common tactic used by criminals to steal data.

Business also should educate their payroll and human resources employees about a dangerous phishing scam. The Form W-2 scam tricks payroll and human resources employees into sharing employee wage and income information by posing as a company executive. See Form W-2/SSN Data Theft: Information for Businesses and Payroll Service Providers.

Businesses that retain sensitive financial data also should review and update their security plan. Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer DataPDF, provides a good place to start and includes helpful recommendations.

Other resources: