The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created numerous resources for taxpayers to learn about tax-related identity theft and action steps for identity theft victims. With tax season in full swing, we are providing an overview of what you need to know to mitigate risk, detect taxpayer identity theft as well as steps to take should you find yourself a victim.
- Mitigate Your Risk for Taxpayer Identity Theft
- Protect your personal information and those of your dependents.
- Make sure your tax records are secure
- Avoid carrying your social security cards
- Use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections on your computer and mobile devices
- Use strong passwords on your online accounts
- Learn to recognize and delete phishing emails, suspicious links, or unknown attachments
- Learn to recognize and avoid telephone and text scams from thieves posing as the IRS, your bank, or credit company
- Get an Identity Protection Pin (IP PIN) from the IRS. The IP PIN tool is generally available starting in mid-January through mid-November.
- Tax Identity Theft Detection
You may not know you (or a dependent) is a victim of identity theft until you e-file your return and learn that a return already has been filed using your Social Security Number (SSN) or you’re notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Signs of Possible Tax-Related Identity Theft
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You can’t e-file your tax return because of a duplicate SSN.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didn’t work for.
- You’ve been assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN) but you did not request an EIN.
- You have been a victim of data breach involving your Social Security number.
- My Tax Identity Was Stolen. What Should I Do?
If your SSN is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these additional steps:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice; call the number provided.
- Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, if your e-file return rejects because of a duplicate filing under your SSN or you are instructed to do so. Use a fillable form at gov, print, then attach form to your paper return and mail according to instructions.
Note: The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
Unfortunately, despite increasing security, we are seeing more and more identity theft cases. We strongly encourage using the IP PIN mentioned above as the process is fairly easy and provides an increased level of protection. The Keiter Tax team will continue to monitor IRS taxpayer identity security guidance and share updates as they are available.
Questions on your specific taxpayer security matters? Contact your Keiter Opportunity Advisor.
About the Author
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.