Protect Your IRS Tax Identity

It’s not big news that scams, frauds, and identity theft are on the rise. New, pandemic-inspired scams related to Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds have started, while income tax filings and financial information remain big, juicy targets for criminals. 

Scrabble tiles spelling "who are you" in a square.

The IRS has responded by expanding its Identity Protection Program to any taxpayer who can verify her or his identity, instead of being limited to taxpayers who report an identity theft issue. The IRS and the tax preparer community want to inform taxpayers about the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program to protect against tax-related identity theft when filing a federal income tax return.

Six things to know about the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program (IP PIN):

  1. The IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers’ personally identifiable information.
  1. To obtain an IP PIN, the best option is Get an IP PIN, the IRS online tool. Taxpayers must validate their identities to access the tool and their IP PIN. Before attempting the process, see Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools
  1. Once issued by the IRS, the taxpayer’s tax account is locked, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account. Electronically-filed federal income tax returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected and a paper return must be filed.
  1. An IP PIN is valid for one specific calendar year. A new IP PIN must be obtained for each filing season.
  1. Current tax-related identity theft victims who have been receiving IP PINs via mail will continue to receive an annual IP PIN to file her or his federal income tax return.
  1. There is no opt-out option. The IRS is working on it for 2022. Taxpayers who cannot provide an IP PIN or obtain a replacement can’t unlock her or his tax account and must file the return in paper form. Any refund will take several weeks to process.

The IRS IP-PIN Program is an option for taxpayers to protect her or his identity from theft and fraudulent tax filings. For taxpayers that want to use the program, the IRS offers more information and instructions at this link – https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin.

IRS Expands Identity Theft Protection Program

Identity theft has existed for almost as long we we’ve had identities. Back in the Old Days, identity theft involved paper and the U.S. mail. The Internet and other online tools made identity theft faster and more wide-spread. Several year ago, when scammers hit taxpayers hard by stealing their IDs and filing fraudulent tax returns, the IRS reacted by starting an Identity Protection Program. Taxpayers who report an identity theft issue are issued an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP-PIN) for filing her or his federal tax return.

With identity theft getting worse all the time, the IRS is rolling out a voluntary nation-wide IP-PIN Program for taxpayers to get identity theft protection before falling victim to an identity thief. After several years of piloting the program in different parts of the country to make sure it works as intended, the IRS is expanding the program nation-wide effective now.

How does the IP-PIN Program work? Here are six things you need to know:

  • The (IP PIN) is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers’ personally identifiable information.
  • Once issued by the IRS, the taxpayer’s tax account is locked, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account. Electronically-filed federal income tax returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected. A paper return must be filed. That return will go through additional scrutiny for fraud.
  • An IP PIN is valid for one specific calendar year. A new IP PIN must be obtained for each filing season.
  • This is a voluntary program. Taxpayers who want IRS assistance with identity theft protection must pass a rigorous identity verification process. Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if she or he can also pass the identity verification process.
  • Current tax-related identity theft victims who have been receiving IP PINs via mail will experience no change.
  • There is no opt-out option. The IRS is working on it for 2022. Taxpayers who cannot provide an IP PIN or obtain a replacement can’t unlock her or his tax account and must file the return in paper form. Any refund will take several weeks to process.

The IRS IP-PIN Program is one option taxpayers can use to protect her or his identity from theft and fraudulent tax filings. For taxpayers that do want to use the program, the IRS offers more information and instructions here – https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-fraud-scams/get-an-identity-protection-pin.