Verifying Your Identity with the IRS
The IRS began increasing identity theft identification efforts in the year 2015 (for the tax year 2014) following an increase of fraudulently filed tax returns. As part of these efforts to decrease fraud, the IRS may now send taxpayers a Letter 5071C asking for verification of an identity associated with a suspicious return.
The IRS may choose to validate a taxpayers identity if:
- The return arrived much earlier than the taxpayers returns from previous years.
- The return arrived using a different method compared to what had been used in the past.
- The return contains income numbers that vary significantly from prior income.
- Deductions or credits vary significantly from what was claimed in the past.
- The return was sent from a suspicious computer or an IP address that has previously sent returns during the same tax year.
If for any reason you have received such a letter, it is important that you respond to this right away. Doing so will help to avoid further delays in processing your return.
You should also keep in mind that the IRS will NEVER call you or e-mail you in an attempt to verify your identity. All such requests are done in writing, there are no exceptions to this. If you receive a call from someone asking you to verify your identity and claiming to be with the IRS, it is most likely a scam.
How to Verify Your Identity
The letter that you receive will explain how to you are expected to verify your identity. Typically, the questions which will be asked pertain to the taxpayer and their past tax returns.
Responses can be made by calling the IRS at the toll-free number (typically found at the top of the letter). Alternatively, for the quickest verification taxpayers are urged to go online to https://idverify.irs.gov and answer the questions there. Note - you only need to answer these questions if you received a 5071C letter.
Despite the letter arriving through the mail you are not advised to respond via mail. The reason for this is, there have been cases of letters that ask for personal taxpayer information which were not sent by the IRS. To avoid taxpayer scams always call the IRS prior to providing any personal information or mailing correspondence. Also, NEVER provide information over the phone to someone who has called you claiming to be an IRS representative.
Information You Will Need to Verify Your Identity
The information that the IRS has about you is based on the tax returns that you have filed in the past. That means that you should have your prior year tax information handy to use for verification purposes. This includes supporting documents, like your W-2s and 1099s.
If you have experienced identity theft problems in the past, you may also need to have your Identity Protection PIN handy. This PIN is assigned by the IRS and used along with your Social Security number to file your taxes. It adds an extra layer of protection for those who have already had their Social Security number compromised.