National Tax Security Awareness Week, Day 4
Choosing a unique Identity Protection PIN boosts personal security
As part of a broader effort to increase security, the Internal Revenue Service and the Security Summit partners today reminded taxpayers they could get extra protection starting in January by joining the agency’s Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) program.
Anyone who has a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and is able to verify their identity is eligible to enroll in the IP PIN program. More than 6.6 million taxpayers are now protecting themselves against tax-related identity theft by participating in the IP PIN program. Last year, the IRS made changes to the program to make it easier for more taxpayers to join. The fastest and easiest way to receive an IP PIN is by using the Get an IP PIN tool, which will be available in January.
Today’s reminder marks the fourth day of National Tax Security Awareness Week, which runs through Dec. 2. The Security Summit sponsors this annual observance as part of a larger effort between the IRS, the state tax agencies as well as the nation’s tax software and tax professional industries.
The Security Summit was established in 2015 to protect taxpayers and the nation’s tax system against tax-related identity theft. This unique collaboration between the public and private sectors has increased mutual defenses against criminals trying to file fraudulent tax returns and steal refunds.
One of the critical features of the IRS system involves an IP PIN, which is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on fraudulent federal income tax returns.
An IP PIN is known only to the taxpayer and the IRS. Initially designed for confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft, the IP PIN program was expanded in 2021 to include any taxpayer nationwide who wants the additional protection and security of using an IP PIN to file tax returns with the IRS.
“Preventing someone from filing a tax return under another person’s name is the main reason we want people to have this special code,” said IRS Acting Commissioner Doug O’Donnell. “We encourage people to apply for the code when the system opens up in January. This step provides an extra line of protection for taxpayers – and their tax return.”
An IP PIN helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept their federal income tax returns, regardless of whether they are filing electronically or on paper. The online Get an IP PIN tool at IRS.gov/IPPIN displays the taxpayer’s IP PIN. Any participating taxpayer will use the tool in each subsequent year to obtain a new number.
The IRS urges any IP PIN applicant previously rejected during the identity authentication process to try applying again in 2023. The authentication process has been refined and improved, enabling many taxpayers screened out in the past to have a better chance of passing the authentication process.
The Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee, or ETAAC, earlier this year highlighted the importance of the IP PIN to taxpayers and tax professionals.
"The IP PIN is the number one security tool currently available to taxpayers from the IRS," the independent advisory group said in its annual report to Congress. "This tool is the key to making it more difficult for criminals to file false tax returns in the name of the taxpayer. In our view, the benefits of increased IP PIN use are many."
The ETAAC also recommended the IRS continue to highlight and promote the IP PIN through a public awareness effort. As part of this effort, the IRS is highlighting the IP PIN as part of National Tax Security Awareness Week. The IRS also continues to raise awareness of special items including Publication 5367, IP PIN Opt-In Program for Taxpayers, in English and Spanish, so that tax professionals can print and share the IP PIN information with clients. Special posters are also available in English and Spanish.
Key points about the IP PIN program
Before applying, keep these key points in mind about the IP PIN program:
- For 2023, the Get an IP PIN tool is scheduled to launch on Jan. 09, 2023. It’s the fastest and easiest way to get an IP PIN. It is also the only option that immediately reveals the IP PIN to the taxpayer. Therefore, the IRS urges everyone to try the Get an IP PIN tool before pursuing other options.
- No identity theft affidavit is required for taxpayers opting in. Anyone who voluntarily applies for an IP PIN does not need to file Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, with the IRS.
- The IP PIN is valid for one year. This means that each January, any participating taxpayer must obtain a newly generated IP PIN.
- Be sure to enter the IP PIN on any return, whether it is filed electronically or on paper. This includes any amended returns or returns for prior years. Doing so will help avoid processing delays or having the return rejected by the IRS.
- Anyone with a Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) who can verify their identity is eligible for the IP PIN opt-in program.
- Any eligible family member can get an IP PIN. This includes the primary taxpayer (the person listed first on a tax return), the secondary taxpayer (on a joint return, the person listed second on the return), or any of their dependents.
- Never reveal an IP PIN to anyone. The only exception is a taxpayer who uses a trusted tax professional to file their return. Even then, only share the IP PIN with the trusted tax pro when it is time to sign and submit the return. The IRS will never ask for an IP PIN. Remember to watch out: Phone calls, emails and texts requesting an IP PIN are scams. Third parties offering to assist taxpayers to establish or re-gain access to IRS online accounts and asking for the taxpayer’s personal information including address, Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number (ITIN) and photo identification use this information to sell to others, or file fraudulent tax returns, open credit accounts and more.
- Identity theft victims should still fill out an ID theft affidavit. Any confirmed tax-related identity theft victim still needs to file Form 14039 with the IRS if the agency rejects their e-filed tax return due to a duplicate SSN filing. The IRS will then investigate their case. Once the fraudulent tax return is removed from their account, the IRS will automatically mail an IP PIN to the confirmed victim at the start of the following calendar year. Because of security risks, confirmed identity theft victims cannot opt-out of the IP PIN program.
Options for people who can’t pass the online authentication process
Two options are available for people who cannot pass the IRS online identity authentication process. One involves filing Form 15227, and the other requires a visit to an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). Unlike the online option, both of these options involve, for security reasons, a delay in receiving an IP PIN.
Form 15227: For processing year 2023, individuals with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less and those filing jointly with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $146,000 or less with access to a telephone can complete Form 15227 and either mail or fax it to the IRS. An IRS representative will then call them to verify their identity with a series of questions. Taxpayers choosing this option who pass the identity authentication process will generally receive their IP PIN in about a month.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers: Any taxpayer who is ineligible to file Form 15227 may make an appointment to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). Anyone using this option must bring two forms of picture identification. Because this is in-person identity verification, an IP PIN will be mailed to the taxpayer after their visit. Usually, allow three weeks for delivery. To find the nearest TAC, use the IRS Local Office Locator online tool or call 844-545-5640.
For more details and to learn more about this year’s National Tax Security Awareness Week’s efforts, visit IRS.gov/securitysummit.