The IRS announced on Friday that it is delaying indefinitely its re-launch of e-Services. The IRS had planned to launch by the end of the month its updated Secure Access site, which will require using a two-factor authentication process (IRS Quick Alert (10/27/17)). To log in to e-Services with two-factor authentication, users will enter their username and password, and the IRS will then send a security code in a text message to the user’s cellphone or to the IRS2Go app.
The IRS announced at the beginning of October that it had awarded the contract to implement the new authentication system to Equifax, even though Equifax had been in the news in early September for one of the biggest data breaches in U.S. history. A week and a half later, the IRS reportedly suspended the contract.
As a result, the IRS is working to find a replacement vendor that can implement the new process. And while the IRS had planned to roll out the new authentication process by the end of October, it will not be able to do so until a later date—which it will announce. The IRS advised practitioners to continue preparing for the launch of Secure Access.
Also, the IRS noted that the technology upgrade of moving e-Services to a new platform continues, which means taxpayers and practitioners are unable to request an e-file identification number, or to view or update an application. Once the new platform is available (which the IRS claims will be soon), the Service says it will have additional personnel available on its help desk to process requests and applications as a priority.
The e-Services issues do not affect preparer tax identification numbers (PTINs), and the IRS announced on Thursday that practitioners can now renew their PTINs for the 2018 filing season (IR-2017-180). All current PTINs will expire on Dec. 31.
—Sally P. Schreiber (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a Tax Adviser senior editor.