Safeguarding Taxpayer Information:

An Evaluation of the Proposed Computerized Tax Administration System

LCD-76-115: Published: Jan 17, 1977. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 1977.

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The proposed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) computer system, the Tax Administration System, was examined to determine safeguards for personal taxpayer information. Major threats to a network of this type are from untrustworthy users or from unauthorized access.

Although absolute computer security is not practicable, the Tax Administration System will provide a high level of protection through technical, administrative, and physical controls. Some of the safeguards in the present system have weaknesses which should be corrected within the framework of existing security procedures. The use of cryptographic devices will depend on an IRS determination based on its risk and threat analysis, but present evidence does not indicate that the cost is warranted. In addition, consideration should be given to: establishing a national data processing security office, guarding against unauthorized access, controlling employee access, improving physical security and control of information media, and seeking legal and other means to limiting disclosure of information.

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