Highlights from the 2020 National Tax Security Awareness Week
IRS Tax Tip 2020-166, December 7, 2020
Recently, the IRS and its Security Summit partners 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.
Heres are some of the highlights from topics covered during the week.
Protect personal and financial information online
Everyone should start with these basics:
- Use security software for computers and mobile phones – and keep it updated.
- Avoid phishing scams, 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.
Use multi-factor authentication
- All tax software providers are offering multi-factor authentication options on products for both taxpayers and tax professionals.
- 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.
- Multi-factor authentication provides a critical layer of protection for your online accounts.
Get an Identity Protection PIN
In January, the Identity Protection PIN Program will available to taxpayers nationwide.
- 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 to see if the program is right for them.
Businesses at risk for identity theft
Most cyberattacks target small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The IRS has resources and information to help businesses stay safe.
- All businesses can report identity theft to the IRS using Form 14039-B, Business Identity Theft Affidavit PDF.
- Check out the Business section of Identity Theft Central on IRS.gov.
Tax professionals should review their safeguards
The IRS and the Summit partners urge tax pros to review the Taxes-Security-Together Checklist. It covers a variety of topic including:
- Deploying basic security measures.
- Using multi-factor authentication to protect tax software accounts.
- How to create virtual private network for working remotely.
- Creating a written data security plan as required by law.
- The importance of knowing about phishing and phone scams, especially those related to fake clients, COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments.
- Creating data security and data theft recovery plans.
IRS to mail special letter to estimated 9 million non-filers, urging them to claim Economic Impact Payment by Oct. 15 at IRS.gov
IR-2020-203, September 8, 2020
WASHINGTON — Later this month, the Internal Revenue Service will start mailing letters to roughly nine million Americans who typically don't file federal income tax returns who may be eligible for, but have not registered to claim, an Economic Impact Payment.
The letters will urge recipients to register at IRS.gov by October 15 in order to receive their payment by the end of the year. Individuals can receive up to $1,200, and married couples can receive up to $2,400. People with qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2019 can get up to an additional $500 for each qualifying child.
The letters are being sent to people who haven't filed a return for either 2018 or 2019. Based on an internal analysis, these are people who don't typically have a tax return filing requirement because they appear to have very low incomes, based on Forms W-2, 1099s and other third-party statements available to the IRS. But many in this group are still eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment.
"The IRS has made an unprecedented outreach effort to make sure people are aware of their potential eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment this year," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Millions who don't normally file a tax return have already registered and received a payment. We are taking this extra step to help Americans who may not know they could be eligible for this payment or don't know how to register for one. People who aren't required to file a tax return can quickly register on IRS.gov and still get their money this year."
The letter, officially known as IRS Notice 1444-A, is written in English and Spanish and includes information on eligibility criteria and how eligible recipients can claim an Economic Impact Payment on IRS.gov. The mailing, which will begin around September 24, will be delivered from an IRS address. To help address fraud concern, a copy of the letter (PDF) is available on IRS.gov.
If those receiving letters haven't done so already, this letter urges eligible individuals to register by October 15 for a payment by using the free Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool, available in English and Spanish and only on IRS.gov. More than seven million people have used the Non-Filers tool so far to register for a payment. Those unable to access the Non-Filers tool may submit a simplified paper return following the procedures described in the Economic Impact Payment FAQs on IRS.gov.
The IRS reminds recipients that receiving a letter is not a guarantee of eligibility for an Economic Impact Payment. An individual is likely eligible if he or she is a U.S. citizen or resident alien; has a work-eligible Social Security number; and can't be claimed as dependent on someone else's federal income tax return. However, there can be a variety of situations that could affect an individual's eligibility. For more information on eligibility requirements, recipients should read the Economic Impact Payment eligibility FAQs on IRS.gov.
The registration deadline for non-filers to claim an Economic Impact Payment through the Non-Filers tool is October 15, 2020. People can also wait until next year and claim it as a credit on their 2020 federal income tax return by filing in 2021.
The IRS emphasizes that anyone required to file either a 2018 or 2019 tax return should file the tax return and not use the Non-Filers tool.
Don't wait: Non-Filers can still get a payment; must act by October 15
Though most Americans − more than 160 million in all − have already received their Economic Impact Payments, the IRS reminds anyone with little or no income who is not required to file a tax return that they may be eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment. This is true regardless of whether they get a letter.
"Time is running out this year for the IRS to issue payments," Rettig said. "People who normally don't file a tax return shouldn't wait to see if they receive one of these letters. They can review the guidelines and register now if they're eligible."
Available in both English and Spanish, the Non-Filers tool is designed for people with incomes typically below $24,400 for married couples, and $12,200 for singles. This includes couples and individuals who are experiencing homelessness.
People can qualify for a payment, even if they don't work or have no earned income. But low- and moderate-income workers and working families eligible to receive special tax benefits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit, cannot use this tool. They will need to file a regular return as soon as possible. The IRS will use their tax return information to determine and issue any EIP for which they are eligible.
Anyone using the Non-Filers tool can speed up the arrival of their payment by choosing to receive it by direct deposit. Those not choosing this option will get a check.
Beginning two weeks after they register, people can track the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool, available only on IRS.gov.
Watch out for scams
The IRS urges everyone to be on the lookout for scams related to the Economic Impact Payments. In particular, watch out for scams using email, phone calls or texts related to these payments. Be careful and cautious: The IRS will not send unsolicited electronic communications asking people to open attachments, visit a website or share personal or financial information.
Remember, go directly and solely to IRS.gov for official information. In particular, both the Non-Filers tool and the Get My Payment tool are available exclusively on IRS.gov. They are not available on any other web site.
For more Information on the Economic Impact Payment, including updated answers to frequently asked questions and other resources, visit IRS.gov/coronavirus.
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