National Tax Security Awareness Week

Last week, the IRS hosted the 2020 National Tax Security Awareness Week. The goal of this week is to encourage taxpayers, businesses and tax pros to take steps to protect their tax data and identities. The IRS has made tax security a major focus as more taxpayers are utilizing digital programs and systems for banking, and other financial management services.

Generally, it is recommended that everyone adhere to these basic provisions whenever possible:

  • Use malware protection/ antivirus software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
  • Avoid phishing scams by scrutinizing all communication received, especially related to COVID-19 or Economic Impact Payments.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for all accounts.
  • Use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Shop only secure websites -- look for the https in web addresses.
  • Avoid shopping on unsecured and public Wi-Fi.

Of the above factors, one of the most essential to avoid security threats is the use of multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This includes on your smartphone or within software programs that you may use. This provides a critical layer of protection between yourself and any sensitive information that you may be dealing with.

Multi-factor authentication protects online accounts by requiring a second verification code in addition to a username and password. For example, this second feature may be a code sent to the taxpayer's cell phone.

Get an Identity Protection PIN

In January, the Identity Protection PIN Program will be available to taxpayers nationwide. We strongly recommend taxpayers utilize this program as it provides a second form of authentication between you and the IRS and can significantly reduce the risk of fraudulent filings and identify theft.

  • The Identity Protection PIN or IP PIN is a six-digit number known only to the taxpayer and the IRS. It helps prevent a taxpayer's Social Security number from being used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns.
  • Taxpayers can review the Get An Identity Protection PIN details page on the IRS website to see if the program is right for them.

Is Your Business at Risk?

Most cyberattacks target small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. It is important to understand that your business may become the target of a cyber attack. You should have mechanisms in place to prevent, detect, monitor, and respond to cyber incidents. This includes alerting the IRS. If your business has become a victim of a cyber attack the IRS provides various reporting guidelines that should be followed to alert the IRS to this attack. It is important that your business stay secure, if you have any concerns over this please reach out to your HBK Advisor.

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About the Author(s)

Cassandra Baubie, JD
Cassandra Baubie is an Associate at HBK CPAs & Consultants and is a member of its Tax Advisory Group (TAG). Cassandra joined HBK in 2017. She works in the firm’s Youngstown, Ohio office. She has experience in tax law research and writing. Prior to joining HBK, she worked for Jurist.org, a global legal news organization, and was a member of the University of Pittsburgh Tax Law Review Journal. Cassandra also worked for the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Low-Income Tax Clinic where she performed IRS litigation and Tax Court work and provided compliance work for low income individuals and businesses. Cassandra focuses on issues pertaining to State and Local Taxation (SALT), as well as flow through entity taxation. She has been involved in numerous sales and use tax, franchise tax, and corporate income tax audits, VDA’s, and refund requests. She focuses on complex sales and use tax compliance planning, nexus studies and on-site review and training for all SALT related issues, and has managed various engagements as the in-charge team member and has significant experience in multi-state tax issues.

Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.

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