Half of IRS Agents Work – And Access Taxpayers' Sensitive Personal Info – from Home

Craig Bannister | February 16, 2024
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Half of IRS agents still work from home and can use their personal devices to store and transmit taxpayers’ sensitive information, IRS Commission Daniel Werfel admitted Thursday, in testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Werfel’s comments raised concerns among Republicans about the security of taxpayers’ personal information.

“In @WaysandMeansGOP, I questioned IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel about the IRS’s telework policy and its impact on customer service and the security of American taxpayers’ personal information,” writes in a social media post introducing a video clip of his exchange with Werfel.

The IRS commissioner refused to answer, when Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) explained the vulnerability of taxpayer information accessed on the personal device of a IRS working from home and asked Werfel if he agreed.

“Fair enough,” Werfel agreed, when Rep. Kustoff said, “Let the record show that you were non-responsive.”

 

 

Rep. Ron Estes (R–Kansas) also posted a clip on social media, noting that he questioned Werfel about both the security threat and the difficult taxpayers have contacting IRS agents:

“Kansans regularly call my office with IRS issues. I brought this up to Commissioner Warfel (sic) today and he admitted that about 50% of agents are still working remotely. How can somebody in a remote location be properly handling tax returns?”

It was during Estes’ questioning, that Kustoff admitted that half of IRS agents are still working from home, well after the COVID pandemic.

 

 

As Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) notes, the IRS policies pose serious security risks:

“The IRS allows agents to use their personal devices to access, transmit, process and store highly sensitive personal taxpayer information. The program is called ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) and is intended for the convenience of agents. But the program has significant data security problems — including screenshot capability — that put personal taxpayer information at risk of leaks and theft.”

“If housemates, significant others and kids have access to these personal devices at home, common sense indicates there are more opportunities for sensitive data breaches,” ATR warns.

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