Information Security

IRS Electronic Filing Systems Gao ID: GAO-01-306 February 16, 2001

A number of serious control weaknesses in the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) electronic filing systems placed personal taxpayer data in IRS' electronic filing system at significant risk of unauthorized disclosure, use, and modification during the 2000 tax filing season. IRS recognized the importance of promptly addressing these weaknesses and stated that it has taken steps to correct them prior to the current tax filing season. Ensuring that ongoing controls over electronic filing are effective requires top-management support and leadership, disciplined processes, and consistent oversight. IRS' efforts to achieve the goal that 80 percent of all tax and information returns be filed electronically by 2007 must be balanced with the need to adequately ensure the security, privacy, and reliability of taxpayer and other sensitive information. Failure to maintain adequate security over IRS' electronic filing systems could erode public confidence in electronically filing tax returns, jeopardize IRS' ability to meet the 80 percent goal, and deprive IRS of the many benefits that electronic filing offers.


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