UW-System considers changes to tax document login
April 3, 2008
The UW-System is considering changes to the way students log in to retrieve tax documents from GetMyDocument.com.
Apprehension arose the second week of January about an e-mail originating from GetMyDocument.com. UW-River Falls student 'in' boxes received the e-mail with, "2007 Form 1098-T (UW) from UW RIVER FALLS, IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION," in the subject line.
While the e-mail originated from GetMyDocument.com, not UW-River Falls, GetMyDocument.com acted on behalf of the UW-System.
Concerned students and parents contacted UW-System Accounts Receivable offices across the state and Ginger L. Hintz, CPA MS director of financial reporting of the University of Wisconsin System administration to verify e-mails received from GetMyDocument.com were associated with the UW-System's 1098T and 1098E tax reporting services.
"There were parent and student calls at every UW campus," Hintz said. "We understand how students are and want to be cautious."
Hintz encourages students and parents to ask questions if they are not certain about the legitimacy of e-mail correspondence from unrecognized sources outside the UW-System.
The Internal Revenue Service describes the 1098T form as a tax document Universities are required by law each year to report to the IRS and provide to at least half time status students about tuition amounts a student received for scholarships, grants, tuition billed to the student and a student's basic enrollment status during a given school year.
Students receiving the document may use the 1098T to fill out their 1040 or 1040A tax forms. The 1098T serves as a way to summarize tuition transactions so students and those claiming the student as a dependent, if eligible, may receive an education deduction when filing their tax return.
UW-System students received a hyperlink in the January e-mail to retrieve their 1098T and 1098E tax documents online. When following the link, GetMyDocument.com requests the user to supply their Social Security number as a means to login to the site along with a scrambled 6-digit security code.
"Student Social Security numbers are purely a validation to get into the system," Hintz said.
While the current system uses a students Social Security number to login, only the last four numbers of the Social Security number are actually displayed on the student version of the1098T form. According to Hintz, changes are forthcoming by the UW-System for students to login and retrieve tax documents from GetMyDocument.com in 2009. Alternative login identification could become available for students to feel more secure about retrieving the forms and using the online option.
"The UW-System has one tax payer ID number," Hintz said. "Individual campuses can't report [the information] to the IRS."
UW-System campuses do not use a universal system wide student login identification; each campus is unique. If a UWRF student transferred to the UW-Eau Claire or UW-Madison for the summer, their Freddy number would not work to utilize campus resources.
In 2007, the UW-System began looking for areas to improve efficiencies and March 5, 2007, placed a Request for Proposal (RFP) for companies to bid on a contract to handle the outsourced 1098T tax reporting. Companies placing bids needed to be audited for the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and eSIGN, a software verification program while also meeting other security requirements.
The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA), enacted in 1974, created a measure of accountability to protect data provided by and about students in schools and universities from being misused or sold.
On October 1, 2007, a yearlong contract with renewable options through Sept. 30, 2010, took effect between GetMyDocument.com and the UW System.
UWRF Accounts Receivable provided 8,563 student Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, directory and tax information by uploading a text document through a secure login on the GetMyDocument.com Web site. The information was processed by the company's computer system and the 1098T forms were made instantly retrievable by UWRF students.
According to Hintz, 226,000 UW students were sent a link to GetMyDocument.com. Of those students, 40 percent actually retrieved their 1098T forms using the online option. At UWRF, 8,563 student tax documents were available for retrieval online, and 3,897 chose to use GetMyDocument.com to view their tax documents.
The U.S Department of Education encourages students and parents to file a complaint or visit the U.S. Department of Education Web site for information on compliance under FERPA at www.ed.gov if there is a concern about how their information is used.
"Generally speaking, the (FERPA) Act permits sharing [student information] on a need to know basis," said Jim Bradshaw of the Public Affairs office in the U.S. Department of Education. "The U.S. Department of Education has no advising opinion [about the UW-System or any university] with out an investigation."
UWRF students can control some of the information available to outside sources such as their directory information. The UWRF Registrar's office provides a form for students to have their directory information removed from public viewing. The form may be found online and filed with the Registrar's office before the second week of fall semester each year.
UW-System universities are required to notify students of policy changes but not required to do so on an individual basis. Most policies and changes will be published in the student handbook and may be found in the online version of the handbook as well.
According to the Social Security Administration Web site (www.ssa.gov), when someone is asking for a social security number, "You should ask why your number is needed, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give out your Social Security number."