To join in on this discussion, you must first log in.

Discussion:IRS release of preparer information

From TaxAlmanac, A Free Online Resource for Tax Professionals
Note: You are using this website at your own risk, subject to our Disclaimer and Website Use and Contribution Terms.

From TaxAlmanac

Jump to: navigation, search

Discussion Forum Index --> Business Growth Community --> IRS release of preparer information


Natalie (talk|edits) said:

October 28, 2011
According to the AICPA, the IRS released the following information about PTIN holders under the Freedom of Information Act:

Name, Mailing address, Email address (!!!!!), Business name, Business address, Business phone and Business website.


Since when does the IRS have the authority to release our private information? No wonder I've been getting spam for classes to meet the PTIN requirements.

Mikex2e7n5 (talk|edits) said:

28 October 2011
I don't think it is private information if it is in the public domain. Not that I think it is right.

Mikex2e7n5 (talk|edits) said:

28 October 2011
And, it's probably under the authority of the Freedom of Information Act

NoVATaxes (talk|edits) said:

28 October 2011
I received a letter from OPR not too long ago notifying me OPR is obliged to release such information under FOIA. Can't say we haven't been warned.

CathysTaxes (talk|edits) said:

28 October 2011
Then we should just mark it as SPAM and let our email providers add these email addresses to their filtered list.

It's just plain wrong.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

October 28, 2011
Well, your email address may be public information, Mike, but mine is not. Had I known they were going to sell my information ($35 for a database on a CD), I would not have used the email address I did.

Just because you were warned, NoVA, does not mean "we" all were. I did not receive any such letter.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

October 28, 2011
Agreed Cathy.

Mr cheese (talk|edits) said:

29 October 2011
You mean that the evil IRS is letting every single consumer out there who is looking for a good tax preparer know my Name, Mailing address, Email address , Business name, Business address, Business phone and Business website?

Oh happy days are here again! Free advertising and straight from the source!

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

October 30, 2011
I don't think so, Mr. Cheese. Based on the emails I've been getting, they've been giving this information, for a $35 CD, to companies that sell CPE. That's not my type of client.

MWPXYZ (talk|edits) said:

30 October 2011
So we pay $64 and "someone" gets to make more $$ on info we provide?

I don't know if anyone would use the IRS as a reputable/reliable resource for a "good" tax preparer.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

1 November 2011
I thought the purpose of the ptin was so that the preparer could safeguard their ssn. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe the purpose was to trick preparers into shelling out $64.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

1 November 2011
I thought the purpose of the ptin was so that the preparer could safeguard their ssn. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe the purpose was to trick preparers into shelling out $64.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

November 4, 2011
Thank you to NoVATaxes for sharing part of the content of the letter from the IRS, which reads in part:

"The IRS Office of Chief Counsel has determined that the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) must disclose enrolled agents' names, mailing addresses, work telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses when requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The requester may be any individual or entity, including anyone offering a product or service, soliciting donations, or conducting opinion polls."


I never received such a letter, and I will definitely change my contact email. I wonder if cell phone numbers qualify as "work telephone numbers." I can see how that would be an issue as well.

LJK CPA (talk|edits) said:

4 November 2011
The AICPA has encouraged the IRS to adequately communicate the information disclosed and to provide PTIN holders the opportunity to "opt out". The IRS said they may suspend further disclosures until they evaluate the matter further.

NoVATaxes (talk|edits) said:

5 November 2011
To add to what Natalie already posted, the letter has specific instructions on changing your contact information:

"Any request to change your contact information must include your name, the information we currently have on file, the new information, your Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN), and the date of your request. Send your request by mail, fax, or email to:

Office of Practitioner Enrollment
PO. Box 33968
Detroit, MI 48232
Fax: 313-234-1293
Email: epp@irs.gov"

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

5 November 2011
I've noticed more paper in my mail box with CPE information, a little more in e-mail, but that can be deleted with the push of a button. The only waste is a little electronic glitch.

Steveea (talk|edits) said:

22 January 2012
I just saw this discussion and wanted to update it. Yes, EAs were warned in October 2010 about the release of data, but the release occured 6 months before. Google Jack Wade and findacase. The PTIN data was released with no such warning this past fall which is when AICPA got involved. I encouraged NAEA to get involved also. David Williams director of RPO (which now handles what OPR did) got the FOIA releases stopped until they could reesxamine the situation.

The release of this information had put practitioners in a dangerous situation. I am not talking about spam here, but the potential for spoofing. Imagine paying $35 for 800,000 legitimate email addreses for an entire industry. Now the spoofers can send us emails designed to look like they came from the IRS. (We had a database blowup and lost part of your PTIN data, click here to reenter it) Yes, most of us will figure it out and not click on anything, but some won't and they are sent to a bogus IRS website with all the PTIN screens looking exactly like the real ones, OR their contact list is sucked up by some virus. Then the thief can send emails to the unfortunate victims clients making them look like they came from the tax practitioner. Very bad. Or the spoofers can just send emails purporting to come from one of us (Have we got a deal for you ! $50 Just send us your information through our secure portal)to the general public.

The release of our email addresses has no precedence and in my belief is not required by FOIA and is definitely a violation of our privacy rights. But it is also potentially dangerous to our business. I have spoken to several people at IRS including David Williams and 2 attorneys in the Chief Councels office. They want and need to hear from more of us. The Chief Councel department of Procedure and Administration headed up by Deborah Butler is the department that decided to release our emails. There phone is (202)-622-3400.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

22 January 2012
Are we permitted to use a PO Box as an address or must it be a street address?

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

January 22, 2012
Thank you, Steve. The release of my information still bothers me, and I keep getting spam. Fortunately, I haven't seen any spoofing . . . yet.

MilTaxEA (talk|edits) said:

22 January 2012
I think it would be entertaining if someone like Crow got a hold of the email list and sent out a spoofed email looking like it is from the IRS with a fake "tax law updates" newsletter. I wonder how many prepares would use the new "rules" without verifying their veracity...

MilTaxEA (talk|edits) said:

22 January 2012
Oh, since I have my own website any address I give will go directly to my inbox as long as it ends in [at]tannertaxpro.com. I give a different email address to every business or government agency that asks for it. Then if I get spam I know who sold my information by looking at the "to" email address. So far not a single one of the commercial companies has sold my email information, however the IRS has sold my PTIN email address and my EA email address. Very frustrating getting that spam.

Steveea (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
Szptax,

With regard to a PO Box, that is one of the problems. At the moment we are not permitted to use one, hence a lot of PTIN holders used their home address cause that is where they have their office. Oops. David Williams told me he is hoping to allow PO Boxes, but it has not happened yet I guess.

Steve

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
It's gotten so bad today I got a $5.00 off coupon for a carton of cigarettes on IRS Email stationary.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
I have tried to be a little under the radar since graduating college. At the time I had what you would call today, a stalker. One who managed to follow me with crank calls to each college apartment, and to my home. I will never - ever- forget his name, or at least who I think it was, though he was never caught so it can't be proven. Anyway... I have tried extremely hard to NOT be listed, anywhere. Thanks IRS. I love you too. I thought the PTIN was supposed to protect us from identity theft etc. What the hell.

Steveea (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
Szptax,

You are not the only one who has this problem. I have a colleague here in Vermont who had the same thing happen. Needless to say she was outraged with the unwarranted data release and fired off a letter to David Williams, director of RPO. I think he is an honest guy. He heard about my colleagues situation from Robert Kerr, the government relations director at NAEA and told me that the story kept him awake at night. Williams knows that IRS blew it badly on this, but he needs to hear from many more practitoners. The main number for RPO is (202) 927-6428. If we don't object en masse, we are going to deserve what we get from IRS.

Steveea (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
I just found this announcement on the NSTP website a few minutes ago:

Practitioners have been concerned with the release of the information on their PTIN application to the public. In response to these concerns, Williams advised that the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that the IRS release preparers' addresses. The IRS will give PTIN holders the option to list a separate mailing address (like a P.O. Box) so their personal addresses will not be disclosed. The IRS is continuing to work on "tightening up this process" to benefit practitioners within the context of the FOIA rules and regulations, according to Williams.

Progress, but not on the email address issue.

Gazoo (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
With all due respect, I don't think that is a completely factual statement as quoted on the NSTP website. I guess NSTP got this statement from the government?

Keep in mind, I am not an FOIA expert but the government finds reasons ALL the time to black out and restrict information in response to an FOIA request. There are grounds the government can rely on written into the FOIA statute that legally allow the government to restrict and redact information. So I don't think that statement cuts the legal mustard. But since it appears the cows have left the barn already I guess the government is throwing out any excuse it can.

Szptax (talk|edits) said:

24 January 2012
Sorta like closing the barn door after all the animals are out don't you think? I cannot imagine that no-one thought of this problem. I suppose really, that no-one cared.

To join in on this discussion, you must first log in.
Personal tools