IRS Expands Identity Protection Program to All Taxpayers
By Alex Feinstein, CPA, Staff Accountant, Tax & Business Services
False tax refund schemes have been a growing problem for the IRS and the victims of fraud as a result of identity theft and the filing of fraudulent returns to obtain refunds.
Tax identity theft occurs when fraudsters steal personal information, such as a name, address or social security number, to file an inaccurate return in order to redirect or falsify a refund.
The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)
To combat identity theft, the IRS devised the Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). The IP PIN is similar to two-factor authentication, which uses two sources of identification/authorization. The IP PIN is a six-digit number that acts as a gatekeeper to prevent fraudsters from filing a return under a stolen social security number.
While this program was initially focused on professional tax preparers and those who had already fallen victim to identity theft, the IRS recently announced an expanded effort that will enable all individual taxpayers to apply for IP PIN.
Joining the IP PIN Program
For those who have already been victims of an identity theft scam, the IRS will provide an IP PIN for the upcoming tax season.
Other taxpayers may opt to register voluntarily with the IRS in mid-January 2021 once the IRS launches its new portal. Once an IP PIN is issued, the taxpayer’s identity needs to be confirmed through a verification process. While spouses and dependents of taxpayers may opt into the program, they are subject to a separate verification process conducted by the IRS.
Guidance from Marcum
Watch for additional updates. Marcum will share more information on the registration process when released by the IRS.
Once issued an IP PIN, remember to:
- Enter a correct IP PIN electronically or by paper to prevent rejections or delays in filing, which would then require further verification.
- Keep the IP PIN secure. Don’t fall victim to fraud by providing the IP PIN in a phone call, email, or fax from those claiming to be the IRS. The IRS will never ask for the IP PIN.
If you become a victim of identity theft, filing your taxes is still your legal responsibility even if it means filing by paper.
While the IP PIN program is one potentially impactful tactic to fight fraud, remember to stay diligent in protecting yourself in many ways.
If you need further advice on fraud prevention or this new IRS program, contact a Marcum professional.