Identity theft related to tax returns is a concerning issue. Fraudsters with access to taxpayer’s personal information, might file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund before the real taxpayer gets a chance. By the time the legitimate taxpayer files, the IRS might reject their return because one has already been filed under their name and Social Security number. Recognizing this, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has implemented various measures to enhance taxpayer security. One such measure is the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program .
What Is the IP PIN Program?
An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents unauthorized individuals from filing a tax return with your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Only you and the IRS know the IP PIN, making it a critical tool for verifying your identity during tax filing, whether electronically or on paper.
Who Is Eligible?
While initially rolled out for individuals who had already fallen victim to tax-related identity theft, the program has expanded over the years. Anyone with a Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) who can validate their identity is eligible for the IP PIN program.
Obtaining an IP PIN
- Online through the IRS IP PIN Tool
- Register to confirm your identity.
- Availability: Generally, from mid-January to mid-November.
- By filing Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number
- Your last filed return should have an adjusted gross income below $73,000 (individuals) or $146,000 (married, filing jointly).
- Provide a phone number for identity verification.
- The IRS will send your IP PIN via USPS mail, usually within 4-6 weeks.
- By scheduling an in-person appointment at a local Taxpayer Assistance Center
- You must present two forms of identification, including a current government-issued photo ID and another identifying document.
- Expect your IP PIN via USPS mail typically within three weeks.
Lost or Missing IP PIN
If you didn’t receive your IP PIN, take the following steps before filing your tax returns:
- Use the “Get an IP PIN” online tool to retrieve your current IP PIN.
- If online retrieval fails, call the IRS at (800) 908-4490 for specialized assistance to have your IP PIN reissued to you. An assistor will verify your identity and mail your IP PIN to your address of record within 21 days.
Key Points to Note
- If you, your spouse (for joint filers), or a dependent have an assigned IP PIN, it must be included in the tax return.
- IP PINs are valid for one calendar year.
- The IRS generates a new IP PIN for you each year, notifying you via a CP01A notice sent by USPS mail each December or January.
- Once in the IP PIN program, you cannot opt-out.
- Ensure you use the IP PIN for all federal tax filings, including for previous years.
- A missing or incorrect IP PIN will cause e-filed return rejection.
- The IP PIN only applies to federal income tax returns. State-issued PINs, if any, are exclusively for state returns.
As cyber threats continue to evolve, it’s crucial to stay informed and proactive in protecting one’s personal and financial data. The IRS’s IP PIN program is an invaluable tool in the fight against tax-related identity theft, providing an additional layer of security for taxpayers. If you believe you’re eligible or if you’re concerned about the safety of your tax-related information, consider looking further into the IP PIN program on the official IRS website.
The IRS will never ask for your IP PIN. If you receive any requests for it through phone, email, or text, be aware that they are scams.
Dana R. Borys, an Accountancy Corporation is a boutique tax consulting, compliance, and representation firm working with affluent individuals and start-up/emerging growth companies. Building connections beyond the code.