The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry have launched a 10-part campaign over 10 weeks called “Don’t Take the Bait” to help tax preparers fight against the increased efforts by cybercriminals to breach tax professionals’ systems and steal client data. Through June 1, the IRS had identified approximately 10,000 business returns as potential victims of identity theft in 2017. That compares with about 4,000 for calendar year 2016 and 350 for calendar year 2015.
The affected returns included corporate returns (Forms 1120 and 1120S) and estate and trust returns (Form 1041). There also was an increase in identity theft related to the Schedule K-1 filings made by partnerships.
The “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign focuses on raising awareness of the critical need for tax professionals to increase their computer security and be cautious when reviewing their inboxes -- specifically the email scams dubbed spear phishing. Those emails appear as though they are from a friend, customer or company. Read more about the campaign and how to protect your clients’ tax information in the news releases found at this link.