By Nick Hopkins, CPA, CFP®
Partner, Director of Tax Services
At the start of the new year, the IRS will expand its Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program nationwide to all taxpayers who can confirm their identity. Taxpayers with either a Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number are eligible for an identity pretention PIN (IP PIN).
An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers that protects their Social Security number from being used to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. Through this number, the IRS can easily verify a taxpayer’s identity and securely accept their tax return.
In mid-January, taxpayers can obtain an IP PIN through the Get An IP PIN tool, which is the only method of receiving an IP PIN that immediately displays the six-digit number once the process is complete. The number is valid for one year and must be renewed every January. Before using the Get An IP PIN tool, taxpayers should review the Secure Access requirements.
For those unable to pass the Secure Access authentication, there are alternative ways of obtaining an IP PIN. Taxpayers with an income of $72,000 or less can complete Form 15227 and submit it to the IRS via snail mail or fax. An IRS employee will then verify the taxpayer’s identity over the phone through a series of personal questions. Those who pass authentication will receive an IP PIN the following tax season.
Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities remotely or who are ineligible to file Form 15277 should visit a Taxpayer Assistance Center and bring two forms of picture identification for an in-person identity verification. After the taxpayer passes authentication, they will receive an IP PIN in the mail within three weeks.
Taxpayers should share their IP PIN with their tax provider only. Sharing with anyone else poses a serious risk. The IRS will never call to request the taxpayer’s IP PIN, and taxpayers must remain vigilant of potential IP PIN scams.
There is no change in the IP PIN Program for confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft. These taxpayers should still file a Form 14039 if their e-filed tax return rejects because of a duplicate SSN filing. The IRS will investigate their case and once the fraudulent tax return is removed from their account, they will automatically receive an IP PIN by mail at the start of the next calendar year.
IP PINs will be mailed annually to confirmed victims and participants enrolled before 2019. For security reasons, confirmed identity theft victims can’t opt out of the IP PIN program. Confirmed victims may use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve lost IP PINs.
For more information, visit the IRS newsroom.