As part of its latest efforts to prevent cybercrime, the IRS said it will begin sending letters to currently registered e-Services users asking them to re-register within 30 days of the date of the letter or risk being shut out of the system. The letters were sent beginning Nov. 28 and will continue to be mailed through the end of December to e-Services users who can access the transcript delivery service and who have been active on their e-Services account within the past year. The IRS announced the re-registration program in September.
E-Services users will be required to validate their identity in one of two ways. The preferred method is to register through Get Transcript online, which allows users to validate their identity through the Secure Access identity authentication process. To do this, users must have an email address, knowledge of their most recently filed tax return, and financial information from either a credit card or other loan numbers. Users must also have a mobile phone in their name to complete the process in one session, or they must request an activation code by mail. The IRS suggests users review the procedures at Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools before they start.
The IRS said that e-Services users who successfully registered for Get Transcript Online after May 2016 do not need to re-register now.
The second way to register is by calling the e-Services Help Desk. To do this, users must have their IRS letter because it contains a unique code that users must provide to the Help Desk assister. Users must also answer a series of questions to authenticate their identity. Users do not need a mobile phone to use this verification method.
Users who fail to authenticate themselves will receive instructions on how to visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identity in person.
Users who take no action or do not act within 30 days of the letter will be locked out of their accounts. The letter, which will be mailed to the address on the user’s most recent tax return, is the only notice the user will receive. Users who are locked out of accounts must call the e-Services Help Desk. Although all users who have used e-Services in the past year should receive a letter, users who do not should contact the e-Services Help Desk.
The IRS said that users are not required to change their usernames and passwords when they re-register. This process is intended only to verify users’ identities. It also warned users to be wary of phishing emails, noting a recent fraudulent one asking users to click on a link to update their e-Services account.
—Sally P. Schreiber (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Tax Adviser senior editor.