If you tried filing your tax return only to realize someone else already filed using your Social Security Number (SSN), you could be a victim of tax identity theft. Today, tax identity theft is one of the top theft complaints handled by the Federal Trade Commission.
What Is Tax Identity Theft?
Tax identity theft is when a person’s identification, such as Social Security Number, is used to file a fraudulent tax return and/or claim tax benefits and refunds. In most cases, victims of tax identity fraud will find out only after the IRS or the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends a notification. Usually, the notification is about an issue with their tax return or benefits.
What Are Signs of Tax Identity Theft?
The following are some of the common signs:
- You file taxes but your return is rejected because the IRS has already received another return matching your SSN or ITIN.
- You receive an IRS letter informing you multiple tax returns have been filed using your tax ID (either an SSN or ITIN).
- You receive an IRS notification showing wages you received from a business/employer you have never worked for.
- You receive an SSA notice informing you that your social security benefits will change because IRS data shows you were paid money by an employer or business you did not work for.
- You are assigned an Employer Identification Number though you never requested an EIN.
- You are mailed an IRS tax transcript that you did not request yourself.
How Do You Report Tax Identity Theft to the IRS?
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft:
- Call the IRS immediately at the number provided on your notice.
- Complete the Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) if you received a rejection for e-filing a duplicate tax return with your SSN. Download Form 14039 and attach it to your tax return. Then, mail or fax your tax identity theft form to the address or number listed in Form 14039.
- Visit irs.gov/identity-theft-central and irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft to learn more about other specific actions you should take.
What Does the IRS Do When You Report Tax Identity Theft?
Once the IRS receives your notification, they will correct your stolen identity. They will also issue and send your tax refund if you are eligible.
The following are some of the things to expect after you report to the IRS:
- IRS Sends A Notice: The IRS will send you a letter or notice to confirm they received your Identity Theft Affidavit within 30 days from when you submit Form 14039.
- IRS Assigns Your Case: The IRS assigns your tax identity theft case to employees who specialize in tax theft resolution. These tax fraud specialists work within the IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance department.
- IRS Flags Your Tax Account: The IRS will also flag your tax account to better detect future fraudulent tax returns using your SSN and stop them before a refund is issued to someone else.
- IRS Closes Your Case: Once the IRS resolves all the issues, they will close your tax-related identity theft case.
- You May be Assigned a Special Identification Number: The IRS typically assigns taxpayers with past identity theft a special number called Identity Protection Personal Identification Number or IP PIN. The IP PIN is a six-digit number that you receive in the mail each December. You will use this IP PIN number to file future returns.
Do You Still Have to File and Pay Taxes If You’re a Victim of Tax Identity Theft?
Yes, the IRS advises that you continue to file and pay taxes on time. They will correct your tax return and issue a refund for overpayment as needed.
What Happens If Someone Steals Your Refund?
The IRS will pay you your refund regardless of whether they already issued a refund to a fraudster. If you are experiencing delays receiving your refund due to tax theft-related issues, call the IRS: 800-908-4490. You can also contact your local Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) office.
How Do You Get an IRS Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)?
Use the “Get an IP PIN” tool in your IRS.gov account to receive an IP PIN. The IP PIN tool is accessible from mid-January until mid-November. If you need an IP PIN but do not have an account on IRS.gov, you must create an account and verify your identity using ID.me.
Help With Tax Identity Theft
Learning you are a victim of tax identity theft can be alarming and stressful. Unfortunately, these types of cases are more common than most people think. If you need help resolving tax-related identity theft or help protecting your personal information and accounts, start for free to see how we can help.
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