Taxpayers can once again get their tax documents online, a year after the IRS shut down its online tax transcript service when hackers accessed hundreds of thousands of Americans’ personal information through the system.
The IRS relaunched the program, “Get Transcript,” Tuesday with a more secure two-step authentication process for all tools and applications.
To access their tax transcripts or tax return information, taxpayers must now supply an email address, personal information, a mobile phone number associated with text messaging and other financial account information. This information is verified and cross-checked through email or text message, which only the taxpayers should have access to, to ensure their identities aren’t used by hackers.
“Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and continue to gather vast amounts of personal information as the result of data breaches at sources outside the IRS,” Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement. “In the face of that threat, we must provide the strongest possible authentication processes, while trying to enhance the ability of taxpayers to legitimately access their data and use IRS services online.”
The upgrade comes a year after hackers managed to breach Get Transcript and compromise 320,000 taxpayers’ personal information, including their Social Security numbers. The breach revealed a host of IT and cybersecurity issues in the IRS, spurring House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to call for Koskinen’s resignation.
“The incident with Get Transcript Online illustrates a wider truth about identity theft in general, which is that there are no perfect systems,” Koskinen said. “No one, either in the public or private sector, can give an absolute guarantee that a system will never be compromised.
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