Tax identity theft is a growing problem in the United States. Taxpayers are often unaware that they have been victims of tax identity theft until they try to file their tax returns and discover that someone has already filed a fraudulent return using their name and Social Security number.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has taken steps to combat tax identity theft, including implementing the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program. This article will discuss tax identity theft, the IRS IP PIN program, and where to find tax lawyer services.
What Is Tax Identity Theft?
Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personal information, such as their name and Social Security number, to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund. The victim of tax identity theft may not know they have been targeted until they receive a notice from the IRS indicating that a return has already been filed in their name.
Tax identity theft can be a time-consuming and stressful experience for victims, as they may need to work with the IRS to resolve the issue and receive their rightful refund.
How Does Tax Identity Theft Happen?
Tax identity theft can happen in some ways. For example, a criminal may obtain a person’s personal information through a data breach, such as the Equifax breach that occurred in 2017.
In other cases, criminals may steal mail or go through the trash to find documents containing personal information. Some criminals may even pose as IRS representatives and contact taxpayers to obtain their personal information.
Once a criminal has obtained a person’s personal information, they may file a fraudulent tax return in that person’s name. They may also use the information to claim a tax refund or apply for credit in the victim’s name.
How Can Taxpayers Protect Themselves from Tax Identity Theft?
Taxpayers can take steps to protect themselves from tax identity theft. One crucial step is safeguarding personal information, such as Social Security and financial account numbers. This includes shredding documents containing personal information before disposing of them, using strong passwords for online accounts, and being cautious about sharing personal information.
Taxpayers should also be aware of common tax identity theft scams. For example, the IRS will never contact taxpayers by phone or email to request personal information. If a taxpayer receives a call or email claiming to be from the IRS requesting personal information, they should not provide any information. They should report the incident to the IRS.
Finally, taxpayers can consider enrolling in the IRS IP PIN program.
What Is the IRS IP PIN Program?
The IRS IP PIN program is voluntary and provides extra protection against tax identity theft. Participants in the program receive a six-digit IP PIN that they must use when filing their tax returns. The IP PIN replaces the Social Security number on the tax return.
The program was initially intended for taxpayers who were victims of tax identity theft. However, in 2021, the IRS expanded the program to include all taxpayers who can verify their identities.
How Can Taxpayers Enroll in the IRS IP PIN Program?
Taxpayers can enroll in the IRS IP PIN program by visiting the IRS website and completing the online application. To enroll, taxpayers must provide personal information, such as their name, Social Security number, and date of birth. They must also provide information from their most recently filed tax return.
Once the application is submitted, the IRS will verify the taxpayer’s identity and, if approved, will issue an IP PIN for the next filing season. The IP PIN is mailed and must be used when filing the taxpayer’s tax return.
Hiring an IRS Tax Attorney
The IRS IP PIN program is a great way to keep your tax identity safe and secure. But if you’re not sure how to go about it, it’s essential to consider hiring an IRS tax attorney to help you. An experienced tax attorney can help you understand the program, the policies, and the legal implications of participating in it and provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the process.
Moreover, your tax attorney can help you understand the legal implications of participating in the IP PIN program. This includes understanding the risks associated with identity theft, the potential penalties for program misuse, and the potential liabilities you may face.
Taxpayers can protect themselves from tax identity theft by safeguarding personal information and being aware of common tax identity theft scams. By taking these steps, enrolling in the IRS IP PIN program, and working with a tax attorney, taxpayers can help protect themselves from tax identity theft and ensure they receive their rightful tax refunds.
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