The IRS has outlined the details of its voluntary Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP-PIN) program where taxpayers will receive an IP-PIN, as well as opening up the process nationwide. In the news release announcing the program, the IRS provides:
The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and to the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayers’ personally identifiable information.
“This is a way to, in essence, lock your tax account, and the IP PIN serves as the key to opening that account,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Electronic returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected, and paper returns will go through additional scrutiny for fraud.”
The news release notes a number of key facts taxpayers need to know before deciding if this program is right for them:
- This is a voluntary program.
- You must pass a rigorous identity verification process.
- Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
- An IP PIN is valid for a calendar year.
- You must obtain a new IP PIN each filing season.
- The online IP PIN tool is offline between November and mid-January each year.
- Correct IP PINs must be entered on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays.
- Never share your IP PIN with anyone but your trusted tax provider. The IRS will never call, text or email requesting your IP PIN. Beware of scams to steal your IP PIN.
- There currently is no opt-out option but the IRS is working on one for 2022.
The lack of an ability to opt-out of the program once a taxpayer has obtained an IP PIN is something that needs to be fully understood by any taxpayer making a decision on participating in this program. If, for whatever reason, the taxpayer no longer is able to provide an IP PIN or obtain a replacement, the only option is to file the return in paper form and expect an extended period of time to pass before the IRS finally pays out any refund that may be due.
For taxpayers that do want to use the program, the IRS offers the following instructions:
Taxpayers who want an IP PIN for 2021 should go to IRS.gov/IPPIN and use the Get an IP PIN tool. This online process will require taxpayers to verify their identities using the Secure Access authentication process if they do not already have an IRS account. See IRS.gov/SecureAccess for what information you need to be successful. There is no need to file a Form 14039, an Identity Theft Affidavit, to opt into the program.
Once taxpayers have authenticated their identities, their 2021 IP PIN immediately will be revealed to them. Once in the program, this PIN must be used when prompted by electronic tax returns or entered by hand near the signature line on paper tax returns.
The IRS site describing the Secure Access program notes that taxpayers will need the following information to successfully complete the process:
- Email address
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
- Tax filing status and mailing address
- One financial account number linked to your name:
- Credit card – last 8 digits (no American Express, debit or corporate cards) or
- Student loan – (Enter the student loan account number provided on your statement. The account number may contain both numbers and letters. Do not include any symbols.) Additionally, we can’t verify student loans issued by Nelnet. or
- Mortgage or home equity loan or
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC) or
- Auto loan
- Mobile phone linked to your name (for faster registration) or ability to receive an activation code by mail.
The IRS does provide options for taxpayers who are unable to obtain a number via the online system. The first is for those with adjusted gross income of $72,000 or less:
Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less may complete Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, and mail or fax to the IRS. An IRS customer service representative will contact the taxpayer and verify their identities by phone. Taxpayers should have their prior year tax return at hand for the verification process.
Taxpayers who verify their identities through this process will have an IP PIN mailed to them the following tax year. This is for security reasons. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.
Other taxpayers will be forced to verify their identity in person if they want to use this program:
Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible for file Form 15227 can contact the IRS and make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identities in person. Taxpayers should bring two forms of identification, including one government-issued picture identification.
Taxpayers who verify their identities through the in-person process will have an IP PIN mailed to them within three weeks. Once in the program, the IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.
This new program will not impact the program already in place for taxpayers with confirmed identity theft issues:
Taxpayers who are confirmed identity theft victims or who have filed an identity theft affidavit because of suspected stolen identity refund fraud will automatically receive an IP PIN via mail once their cases are resolved. Current tax-related identity theft victims who have been receiving IP PINs via mail will experience no change.
If you need any assistance with the IP PIN process, please do not hesitate to reach out to the office.