What should I do if someone has used my information to file a tax return that I didn’t authorize?
First, check your credit report to make sure they haven’t hacked any other accounts. If so, notify the account holders immediately of the fraudulent activity.
In most cases of tax-related identity theft, the IRS identifies a suspicious tax return based on hundreds of processing filters and pulls the suspicious return for a review. The IRS will send a letter to the taxpayer and will not process the tax return until hearing back from the taxpayer.
In this situation, the taxpayer will receive Letter 5071C, which will ask them to use an online tool to verify their identity and tell the IRS if they filed the return in question. A variation, Letter 4883C, will ask the taxpayer to call the IRS to verify their identity and tell the IRS if they filed the return. Those who have been a victim of a data breach may receive Letter 5747C and be asked to verify their identity in person at a Taxpayer Assistance Center.
Taxpayers file Form 14039 to inform the IRS that they think they may be a victim of tax-related identity theft. They are having specific tax-related issues, such as not being able to file electronically because a tax return with their social security number already has been filed. (First make sure there are no other common issues, such as a transposed social security number or a dependent filing a separate tax return.)
Completing Form 14039, attaching it to a paper tax return and mailing it to the IRS is the way to inform the IRS that the taxpayer may be a victim. The IRS will then identify the fraudulent return and, after an investigation, clear the account and process the paper tax return. See IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works for more information.
Generally, most tax-related identity theft comes to light one of two ways:
- The IRS mails Letter 5071C, Letter 4883C, Letter 5747C
- The taxpayer tells the IRS with Form 14039
Taxpayers who are victims of tax-related identity theft can either use the Get an IP PIN tool once they receive a CP01 acknowledgment letter from the IRS or they can wait to receive their IP PIN in the mail via a CP01A letter prior to the start of the filing season. You will need this IP PIN in order to e-file your tax return and they will mail you a new one every year. So, make sure you keep your address current with the IRS. In order to notify them of a new address, use form 8822.
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