Tax Information Safeguard Activity Annual Report

GGD-84-83: Published: Jun 11, 1984. Publicly Released: Jun 11, 1984.

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GAO reported on the safeguarding of tax returns and return information during the period from January 1, 1982, through December 31, 1983.

GAO has been reviewing its procedures in light of changes to access authority included in the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. After completing the procedural review, GAO will discuss any possible revisions with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During continuous monitoring at headquarters and periodic visits to the regional staffs, GAO detected no systemic tax information safeguard problems or staff deviations from prescribed procedures. In general, secure office space and containers for storage are provided by IRS and, when the information is at GAO offices, the information is secured consistent with IRS procedures. Only authorized personnel are given access to the storage areas. GAO procedures are sufficiently detailed to ensure that only authorized persons gain access to the information. Primary responsibility for facility security resides with IRS; however, GAO security is sufficient to prevent unauthorized access to areas where tax information is stored. In addition, procedures prevent the commingling of tax and nontax records. Further, GAO has no safeguard problems attributable to after-hours security and employees are sufficiently informed about the need for security of tax information. Most GAO computer processing relies almost completely on IRS computer systems, however; when other systems are used, the information is controlled according to IRS standards. Finally, the review showed no unauthorized disposal or indications that disposal procedures should be changed.

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