Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Pell Center Receives Grant to Provide Cybersecurity Training to Tax Preparation Industry

NEWPORT, R.I. – The Pell Center at Salve Regina University has received a three-year grant for more than $130,000 from the American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights (ACTR) to provide cybersecurity awareness and training to individual tax preparers during IRS Tax Forums across the country each year.

In recent years, individual tax preparation professionals and smaller businesses with tax information have become a more attractive target of data breaches, cyber intrusions, and various takeovers as state tax agencies and larger tax preparation businesses have continued to strengthen their own cybersecurity posture and make it harder for cyber criminals to infiltrate their networks. Indeed, cyber criminals are changing their tactics and targeting individual tax preparation professionals and smaller businesses, often considered the “low hanging fruit.”

In July 2017, the IRS launched a campaign directed at tax professionals to increase awareness about cyber threats, and provided guidance and resources to prevent phishing scams and develop information security plans. However, recent surveys have shown that less than 30% of respondents had a written plan in place or required any mandatory training, demonstrating there is still low awareness and compliance of security requirements in the tax professional community.

“Protecting taxpayers and strengthening the integrity of the U.S. tax system has to be a team effort,” said Pell Center Senior Fellow Francesca Spidalieri.  “While cyber risks, as with all risks, cannot be completely eliminated, they can be managed through informed decision-making processes, careful planning, workforce training, and appropriate allocation of resources. We look forward to helping small proprietors in the tax preparation industry meet this growing challenge.”

“The Pell Center has established a strong track record of working with businesses, meeting them where they are, and arming them with a working knowledge of the threat and practical steps they can take to act,” said Stephen M. Ryan, counsel to the American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights, a national trade association of tax preparers and financial institutions that offer tax-time bank products.  “We’re delighted to work with the Pell Center to meet the needs of our industry.  ACTR is committed to pro-actively working with the IRS and state revenue departments to strengthen the tax administration system from cyber attacks, and to prevent stolen identity tax refund fraud.”

The Pell Center at Salve Regina University is a multi-disciplinary research center on the campus of Salve Regina University.  Dedicated to honoring the legacy of Senator Claiborne Pell, the center is a thought-leader in contemporary foreign and domestic policy issues.  For more information about the Pell Center, please visit

The American Coalition for Taxpayer Rights was formed in 2011 by the nation’s leading retail tax preparation and tax software companies and financial institutions.  Collectively, ACTR advocates for taxpayer rights and the preservation of our voluntary tax compliance system.  For more information about ACTR, please visit


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