Not long ago taxpayers who had been victims of identity theft and were entitled to tax refunds would not receive the refund for months after filing a return with the IRS. This was due to the fact that a return been filed using the taxpayer-victim’s social security number and the refund had already been issued to the scammer. Once the taxpayer established the identity theft, the IRS would issue the refund to the taxpayer resulting in huge losses to the government. To combat this the IRS began issuing an Identity Protection PIN to the confirmed victims of identity theft. The PIN was necessary for the filing of a tax return and the return would not be accepted by the IRS without the PIN. Since the PIN changed yearly it made it difficult for identity thieves to file fraudulent returns on behalf of a taxpayer in order to claim a refund.

Due to the prevalence of identity theft, the IRS has announced an Identity Protection PIN Opt-in program. The voluntary PIN opt-in program is for those taxpayers who want a way to protect themselves from tax-related identity theft. The program will be available in mid-January 2021 to any taxpayer who can verify his/her identity.  Once the program is available the PIN can be obtained here:

In order to apply for the PIN online the taxpayer is required to create an account at which requires that the taxpayer verify his/her identity. When applying online the taxpayer will receive the PIN immediately. The PIN is valid for one calendar year. A taxpayer would need to apply for a PIN each year between mid-January and mid-November. The IRS intends to provide an opt-out feature to the voluntary PIN program in 2022.

The PIN, a six-digit number, helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept the filed return. The PIN prevents the use of the taxpayer’s social security number from being used to file a return. If a PIN has been issued to a taxpayer neither an electronically filed nor a paper filed return will be accepted by the IRS if the PIN is missing or incorrect. The PIN can only be used on 1040, 1040-SR, 1040-NR and 1040-PR/SS returns, not amended returns (1040-X) or extensions to file a 1040 return.

Taxpayers who are unable to verify their identity through the online tool will be eligible to apply for a PIN by filing IRS Form 15227 if their adjusted gross income is below $72,000, they have a social security or taxpayer identification number and they have access to a telephone. The IRS will call the taxpayer to provide the PIN, however, the PIN cannot be used until the next filing season.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identity through the online tool and who are not eligible for Form 15227 will have to make an appointment for an in-person meeting with the Taxpayer Assistance Service. The IRS will mail the PIN to taxpayers who appear in person within three weeks.

The voluntary PIN opt-in program does not apply to taxpayers who are confirmed victims of identity theft. These individuals will receive their yearly PIN by mail from the IRS. Victims of identity theft cannot opt out of the PIN program.

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