From the Desk of Michael T. McCormick
Help, Someone Stole My Refund! : A Taxpayer’s Guide to Tax Identity Theft
If you think someone filed a return using your SSN number, contact the IRS immediately. As we move into a world where everything is online and no one is safe, we have put together a quick guide to help you in case you should ever receive a notice from the IRS stating that more than one return has been filed in your name.
More and more fraudulent tax returns are filed each year, and unfortunately that number does not seem to be dwindling any time soon. In 2013, 1.6 million taxpayers were hit by tax identity theft, compared to just 271,000 in all of 2010, as reported by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The IRS paid out 5.8 billion in stolen tax refunds in 2013, according to a study in the General Accountability Office.
If you receive a notice that a duplicate return has been filed in your name, be sure to:
1. Contact your tax professional. They will need to know your situation and help you going forward.
2. Report fraud by calling the IRS as soon as possible. The phone number is 800-908-4490 for the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. Be sure to have your previous year’s tax return handy.
3. Report fraud to the state(s) you file your return.
4. Report the theft to the police. You may need an official theft report from the local authorities in order for government agencies and credit bureaus to help you with your investigation.
5. Fill out the IRS affidavit or FORM 14039.
6. Alert the Credit Bureaus to report that you are an identity theft victim.
7. Check your credit report for the next few months to ensure that no one has opened any lines of credit in your name.
8. Obtain a personal identification number (PIN), which should be provided to you by the IRS, to provide another layer of security for future filings. You will be mailed this number and you will need to provide it with filing any tax form going forward.
As much as this situation can be stressful, rest assured that awareness is prevention. Patience will be your biggest ally, as the IRS says that a typical case of ID theft can take 180 days to resolve. There could be a delay in your refund, but always know that the IRS will always pay your refund and what is owed to you.