Auditing and Financial Management:

Tax Information Safeguard Activity Annual Report

GGD-85-71: Published: Aug 23, 1985. Publicly Released: Aug 23, 1985.

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GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) tax information safeguard activities for the calendar year ended December 31, 1984, to assess: (1) significant changes in safeguard procedures or authorized access to tax return information; (2) any changes or enhancements to physical and computer security measures used to safeguard tax information; and (3) the results of internal inspections conducted to ensure that written procedures were followed.

GAO found that: (1) GAO Order 0135.1 did not reflect any major change in the safeguard procedures described in the safeguard activity annual report submitted in June 1984; (2) two new provisions were added to the order to further emphasize the importance of preserving the confidentiality of tax information; (3) one new provision stated that employees must pass a background investigation before having access to tax information; and (4) a second provision stipulated that employees assigned to jobs requiring access to tax information will not engage in outside employment involving the preparation of tax returns. GAO also found that: (1) the Office of Security and Safety is responsible for inspecting safeguards and reporting the results to the head of the division or office involved; (2) access to tax returns and tax information was limited to those employees who were specifically authorized; and (3) the procedures followed by its staff disclosed no safeguard problems requiring procedural change.

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