2015 Tax Planning and Safeguarding Against Identity Theft
According to the USPS, identity theft is America's fastest-growing crime with more than 9.9 million American victims last year alone, costing roughly $5 billion dollars.[i]
One of the many ways identity thieves acquire information is theft of documents from mailboxes.
To decrease the chances that someone may steal your mail:
- Take outgoing mail to post office collection boxes or the post office.
- Promptly remove mail that arrives in your mailbox. Do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight.
- If you won’t be home for several days, request that the post office hold on your mail.
- Use secure online tools such as email encryption to eliminate the physical transfer of information.
What we are doing to help safeguard against identity theft
In addition to sending tax organizers via encrypted email, to help further safeguard against the growing threats associated with identify theft we are now offering an optional online tax organizer.
Online Tax Organizer
In addition to the PDF Tax Organizer that is sent to our clients via encrypted email, this year we will offer a new web-based version of the tax organizer for our mobile clients who may be traveling, not have access to a printer, or simply prefer to complete their tax organizer online. Accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the web organizer is a secure and convenient option in which our clients are able to provide us with their information, including the ability to submit their supporting documents online. The online organizer also allows the client to save a PDF copy of their completed organizer for their personal records thus eliminating the need for scanning and printing their own copies.
If you prefer to complete the organizer online with our Web Tax Organizer rather than using our traditional print version emailed to clients, please contact us by calling 1-732-739-8991 or emailing Plan@ShapiroFSG.com to request the web organizer and we will email you an invitation!
Upon receiving notification that you submitted your Web Organizer, our tax preparers will review your submitted data and supporting documents, and, once verified, will start your tax return preparation.
Finally, in an additional effort to further increase safeguards against identity theft and tax fraud associated with unattended mailboxes, for returns which are being e-filed we are planning to send copies of final 2015 tax returns and their accompanying documents by secure encrypted email.
- Clients receive a PDF copy of your tax return along with an "Actionable items PDF" containing items that require immediate response.
Returns will be sent out with end-to-end encryption. This means that both the message (and accompanying attachments) are encrypted in our systems and only unencrypted once it reaches the client's mailbox and they have entered the same unique password assigned to their Tax Organizer. The E-Mail encryption used for transmitting final tax returns to clients is based on 1024-bit keys using industry's trusted standards.
As always, we continue to provide hard copies when requested by our clients via the USPS for those clients who prefer the printed versions or have no access to email.
If you would prefer to receive your tax return mailed to you via USPS, please contact us by calling 1-732-739-8991 or emailing Plan@ShapiroFSG.com and we will mail out copies to you.
What is the IRS doing to prevent Tax Fraud? – A New Tax Form may soon be added [ii]
Since identity theft can lead to tax fraud, the IRS has been working to develop ways to decrease the incidence of this occurring. "Three working groups specializing in authentication, information sharing and cybersecurity focused on developing ways to validate the authenticity of taxpayers and information included on tax return submissions, information sharing to improve detection and expand prevention of refund fraud"[iii]
As a result of this effort, this year, a new form has been added to tax returns to help tax authorities validate taxpayers' identity in many states. Several states will not accept tax returns without taxpayers completing the new form and providing the requested information which is used to identify the taxpayer and help validate that the return has not been filed by a person posing as the taxpayer.
At time of this writing the requirement is not mandatory in all states, or for Federal returns, but we do expect this change within the next few years.