The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) have recently been calling for the IRS to implement an enterprise email archiving solution, according to reports. An email archiving solution for enterprise allows emails to be retrieved on demand as well as ensuring messages remain usable. Emails must be able to be produced by companies in the event of an audit and during the legal discovery process. An email archive is searchable and allows emails to be quickly and easily located and accessed if they are required.
Recovering emails from backups can be a long and complicated process for businesses. Because of this, many companies simplify the process through using an enterprise email archiving solution such as ArcTitan. ArcTitan ensures archiving emails is a quick and easy process by freeing up valuable storage space on mail servers. Recovering emails is also made a quick and straightforward task as the archive is searchable. Although recovering multiple emails from backups can take several days, with ArcTitan even large numbers of emails from multiple email accounts can be recovered in minutes.
Currently, federal laws require emails to be produced on demand. The IRS has recently been discovered to have failed to comply with federal regulations on email storage. It is becoming evident that many companies are yet to switch to an email archive and the IRS is not setting a good example in this regard.
In an audit recently conducted by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the Inland Revenue Service, it was discovered that IRS policies on email storage does not allow it to consistently ensure records are retained. Additionally, in several cases, the IRS has been unable to produce emails on request.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and the Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means requested the audit after the IRS reported that it was unable to produce some documents after receiving Freedom of Information requests. The IRS discovered documents had been accidentally deleted upon searching for them on their system.
It was also discovered by the auditors that emails are not automatically archived for all employees and some employees had been instructed to manually store emails on their hard drives or network drives. Some emails and documents were consequently permanently lost when hard drives were damaged or destroyed.
Additionally, the audit portrayed that even though a new executive e-mail retention policy had been introduced that should have resulted in emails being automatically archived, that didn’t ever occur due to some executives failing to turn on the automatic archiving feature.
The IRS also failed to apply polices on email archiving consistently. In fact, it was discovered that it had failed to follow its own policies on email archiving in more than half of the 30 Freedom of Information requests assessed by auditors. All documents and emails would have been recoverable and could have been quickly been located, had an enterprise email archiving solution been used.
Following the findings of the audit, the IRS have been instructed to implement an enterprise email archiving solution by TIGTA. This is something which all organizations in the United States should consider. In the event of a Freedom of Information request, an audit or a lawsuit, all relevant emails can be quickly produced and regulatory fines can be avoided.
How an Enterprise Archiving Solution can Help IRS´ Compliance with GDPR
The EU´s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is due to be introduced in May 2018. Under this new Regulation, the IRS, and any other US organization maintaining the personal data of EU citizens, have a duty to protect EU citizens’ personal data from theft, loss or unauthorized disclosure. The implementation of an enterprise email archiving solution will help the IRS to comply with these new regulations.
EU citizens now also have the right to request access to personal data held by the IRS. In addition, they also hold a “right to be forgotten” if the IRS no longer has a lawful basis for retaining the data. TIGTA´s audit of email practices within the IRS came in perfect time for them as, should the IRS be unable to produce an email on request or fail to respond to a data access request within thirty days, the Service could be liable for a fine of up to 4% of global turnover. The IRS collected $3.3 trillion in taxes in 2015, making the amount they could be fined a substantial figure.