Need a copy of your tax return? The IRS ‘Get Transcript‘ Service is back, making it possible to request copies of your tax records online.
In May of 2015, the IRS announced that the online tax-record application had been hacked, allowing unauthorized access to about 114,000 taxpayer accounts. The online application was immediately suspended. In August of that year, the agency revised its estimate of hacked accounts to 334,000 and eventually to 390,000.
The application, launched in January of 2014, was designed to allow taxpayers to easily obtain records of prior year tax filings and information on income reported to the IRS for specific tax years. The transcripts are often used when applying for consumer credit, such as mortgages or student loans, or to obtain information needed to e-file a tax return.
In order to use the system, taxpayers must correctly answer multiple identity verification questions. It’s believed that the hackers used taxpayer information obtained elsewhere to correctly answer the questions, allowing them to access even more data about individual taxpayers. Since then, the IRS has been working with security experts to design a more rigorous e-authentication process that will increase protection against identity thieves.
The new system uses a more secure access framework that enables the IRS to require a two-step authentication process for all online tools and applications. Now, taxpayers must have an email address, a text-enabled mobile phone, and specific financial account information such as a credit card or loan number. Anyone who registered under the old system will need to re-register in order to access the tool.
Some taxpayers may have more difficulty authenticating their identities under the new system, but the IRS has promised to continue to offer transcript ordering via phone and mail.