A Proactive Way to Protect Your Tax-Related Identity

A Proactive Way to Protect Your Tax-Related Identity

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launched the Identity Protection (IP) PIN program nearly a decade ago to protect confirmed identity theft victims against ongoing tax-related fraud. Now, the voluntary program is open to any taxpayer who wants to be proactive in protecting themselves from tax-related identity theft.  

The IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security Number.  The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS and helps the IRS verify your identity when you file your electronic or paper tax return.  

“This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Electronic returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected, and paper returns will go through additional scrutiny for fraud.”

Here Are A Few Key Things to Know About the IP PIN Opt-In Program:

  • This is a voluntary program.
  • You must pass a rigorous identity verification process.
  • Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
  • An IP PIN is valid for a calendar year.
  • You must obtain a new IP PIN each filing season.  The new IP PIN will be mailed to you each year.
  • The online IP PIN tool is offline between November and mid-January each year.
  • Correct IP PINs must be entered on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays.

How To Get an IP Pin

Taxpayers who want an IP PIN for 2021 should go to www.IRS.gov/IPPIN

and use the Get an IP PIN tool. This online process will require taxpayers to verify their identities using the Secure Access authentication process if they do not already have an IRS account.

Have This Information Ready:

  • Email address
  • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
  • Tax filing status and mailing address
  • One financial account number linked to your name:
    • Credit card – last 8 digits (no American Express, debit or corporate cards) or
    • Student loan – (Enter the student loan account number provided on your statement. The account number may contain both numbers and letters. Do not include any symbols.) Additionally, student loans issued by Nelnet cannot be used for verification purposes.
    • Mortgage or home equity loan or
    • Home equity line of credit (HELOC) or
    • Auto loan
  • Mobile phone linked to your name (for faster registration) or ability to receive an activation code by mail

Other Options If the Online Process Doesn’t Work for You

If your income is $72,000 or less and you can’t use the online tool, file Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number.  You must have:

  • A valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • An adjusted gross income of $72,000 or less
  • Access to a telephone

An IRS customer service representative will contact the taxpayer and verify their identities by phone. Taxpayers should have their prior year tax return on hand for the verification process.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible for file Form 15227 can contact the IRS and make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identities in person. Taxpayers should bring two forms of identification, including one government-issued picture identification.

Receiving Your IP Pin

Taxpayers who verify their identities through the online process will receive their IP PIN immediately.  Others who verified using the in-person process they will have an IP PIN mailed to them within three weeks. Once in the program, this PIN must be used when filing electronic tax returns or paper tax returns. The IP PIN will be mailed to taxpayers in the program each year.

There is no need to file a Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit, to opt into the program.  Taxpayers who are confirmed identity theft victims or who have filed an identity theft affidavit because of suspected stolen identity refund fraud will automatically receive an IP PIN via mail once their cases are resolved. Current tax-related identity theft victims who have been receiving IP PINs via mail will experience no change.

To Retrieve Lost IP Pin

If you receive the annual IP PIN via mail but lose or fail to receive your CP01A Notice, you may use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve your number.

FOR MORE INFO: See www.IRS.gov/IPPIN for additional details.

IMPORTANT: The IRS will never email, text or call you to request your IP PIN. Do not reveal your IP PIN to anyone but your trusted tax software provider or tax preparer. Neither your provider nor preparer will ask for your IP PIN except to complete your tax return. Protect your IP PIN from theft, especially scams.


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