Data security is more important now than ever before, as identity thieves are targeting tax professionals at higher and higher rates due to the sensitive client data held by them. A thief who manages to breach the data of one tax preparer can potentially gain hundreds or thousands of taxpayers’ data, including the data of their dependents and spouses.
There are several ways to protect yourself from data breach, phishing, and cybercrime. One easy way you can check for suspicious activity as a tax preparer is to check how many federal tax returns have been filed with your Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN).
As part of the ongoing concerns about security and identity theft, the IRS recommends that you verify the number of returns submitted under your EFIN. Make sure to do this routinely, especially during tax season. You can verify your EFIN through IRS e-Services. If you do not have an e-Services account, then you’ll need to go to e-Services and register for an account.
Once you have logged into/created your e-Services account, follow these steps to verify the number of returns electronically filed under your EFIN:
- Select your name
- In the left banner, select ‘Application’
- In the left banner, select ‘e-File Application’
- Select your name again
- In the listing, select ‘EFIN Status’ and on this screen you can see the number of returns filed based on return type
Your e-Services account will give you the number of returns the IRS received, which you can match to your records. The statistics are updated weekly, so if you notice a significantly higher volume than you transmitted, please don’t hesitate to contact the IRS e-help Desk at (866) 255-0654.
For more information on EFINs, read Publication 3112, IRS e-file Application and Participation, which provides participation requirements and necessary steps to obtain an EFIN. You can also reference Publication 1345, Handbook for Authorized IRS e-file Providers of Individual Income Tax Returns, which provides rules and requirements for participation in IRS e-file involving individual income tax returns and related forms and schedules.