IRS requires professional e-filers to use approved encryption

The IRS has directed e-file program participants who transmit directly to the agency's Electronic Management System to use only IRS-approved encryption methods for the 2006 and subsequent filing seasons.

Transmitters who directly submit returns to the IRS system must use the IRS Internet application or purchase and install in IRS facilities encrypted and dedicated leased lines that are federal standards-compliant and IRS-approved, the agency said recently in the Federal Register.

The encryption update is aimed at IRS e-file software developers who prepare software packages for direct, dial-up transmission to IRS e-file EMS sites for individual and business electronic returns, for states participating in IRS federal/state e-file and for transmitters who have dedicated leased lines.

Encrypting the transmissions strengthens and completes existing security provided by the trading partners' systems and by the IRS security zone. The IRS uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Version 3.0, with 128-bit encryption keys in an operational mode with Telnets protocol.

The IRS will discontinue support for its existing analog and ISDN dial-up line services for filers of individual returns in November and for business returns in December. Many IRS e-file transmitters began using the updated encryption applications during this year's filing season, the IRS said.

Those who submit large corporate returns are not included in the notice because they transmit directly to the Modernized e-File platform through the registered user portal or through the application-to-application method.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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