Questions for tax preparers to ask themselves about data security

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Tax Tip 2020-02, January 14, 2020

When thinking about protecting taxpayer data, there's one thing tax professionals can first do: look around their office. Tax preparers should look for all places they store data and use a critical eye to assess whether that data is secure.

Tax preparers should also remember that unsecured data will not always be on a computer. In fact, securing office space is as important as securing computers.

Here is a series of questions tax preparers can ask themselves to assess how secure their office is. The answers can be very important to help preparers protect both their clients and their businesses.

  • Are all the places where taxpayer information is located protected from unauthorized access?
  • What about other potential dangers such as theft, flood and tornado?
  • Are there written procedures that prevent unauthorized access and unauthorized processes?
  • Is taxpayer information left unsecured? This includes data stored electronically.
  • Did I check desks, photocopiers, mailboxes, vehicles and trashcans?
  • Have I taken steps to secure data in rooms in the office or at home where unauthorized access could occur? 
  • Who authorizes or controls delivery and removal of taxpayer information, including data stored electronically?
  • Are the doors to file rooms and computer rooms locked?
  • Is there a secure disposal of taxpayer information, such as shredders, burn boxes, or secure temporary file areas for information until it can be properly disposed?

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