The Internal Revenue Service has announced it is expanding its voluntary Identity Protection PIN program to taxpayers in 20 locations, a step toward making the program nationwide.
The IP PIN is a six-digit number that adds a layer of protection to the taxpayers’ Social Security numbers and helps protect against tax-related identity theft. It helps prevent a taxpayer’s SSN from being used on a fraudulent tax return.
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Taxpayers will be eligible for this voluntary program if they filed a federal tax return last year from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington.
Taxpayers enter their IP PINs onto their federal tax return when prompted by their electronic provider or their tax professional. Taxpayers must use the correct IP PIN on their tax returns to avoid return rejects or delays.
Taxpayers opting into the IP PIN program must use the online Get an IP PIN tool at IRS.gov/IPPIN. Before obtaining an IP PIN, taxpayers must pass a rigorous identity verification process. Not everyone can pass. Taxpayers cannot call the IRS to request an IP PIN. The IRS is working on an alternative for those who cannot authenticate their identities.
The IRS has created a new publication – Publication 5367, Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program for Taxpayers – to help taxpayers understand the required steps. The publication is in English and Spanish. Taxpayers should review the publication or the IRS.gov/IPPIN page to make sure the program is right for them.
Taxpayers who opt into the program should be on high alert for phishing attempts by cybercriminals and others to steal their IP PINs. The IRS will never ask taxpayers to disclose their IP PINs. The only time taxpayers should disclose their IP PINs is when prompted by the tax software provider as they are preparing their tax return or when their tax preparer needs it to complete the tax return. Any calls, emails or texts requesting the IP PIN are likely attempts at theft.
The IP PIN is valid for a calendar year. Taxpayers who opt into the program must return to the Get an IP PIN tool each year to obtain a new number.
The IP PIN protects only one SSN. For a married couple, each taxpayer must register on IRS.gov, validate their identity and request an IP PIN. Only dependents who can pass the identity verification process will be able to obtain an IP PIN.
The IRS expanded the program to the 20 locations based on identity theft reports submitted to the Federal Trade Commission. The IRS is expanding eligibility in stages to insure there is no adverse impact on existing systems. After the 2020 filing season, the IRS will decide whether to add additional states or expand nationwide.