Tax identification theft is becoming all too common. Victims know how frustrating the experience can be. Thankfully, the IRS is willing to help.
If you are a victim of IRS identity theft, your first instinct is to find out what was filed and who filed it. In the past, most requests by victims of this theft could not receive this information. The IRS often stonewalls these requests because of active investigations and because it wishes to protect other potential victims’ identification.
There is help
As long as you follow IRS instructions, you are now able to get transcripts of what thieves attempted to do with your tax information. But be forewarned. The IRS may mask or redact information on the fraudulently filed tax return. Its goal is to provide you with enough information to determine how your personal information was used on the tax return without putting other information at risk.
To receive a transcript you must:
- First, file an identity theft Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit
- Then file Form 4506-F, Identity Theft Victim’s Request for Copy of Fraudulent Tax Return
To be successful in your request, your name and Social Security number (SSN) must be listed as the primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent tax return. Plan on receiving an acknowledgement from the IRS within 30 days and a copy of the transcript within 90 days. Be prepared to have to work through masked or redacted information to determine what was stolen.
Why the stolen information may be important
- You can see what personal information has been stolen. What has been compromised? Name, address and SSN? Do they have your dependent’s or spouse’s information? Perhaps they also have your income and withholding data. Knowing this will help you plan the extent of data protection you will need.
- There may be clues as to where the identity theft occurred. Of the information stolen, who had access to it? Did the data breach involving your information happen through the IRS or somewhere else?
- There may be more tax years impacted than you thought. Request information from the year you first became aware of the identity theft at the IRS. But you may wish to request information from a prior year and from the year following the theft. The IRS has access to up to six years of tax returns. Try to determine whether the theft is ongoing or a one-time occurrence.
The request requires specific information. You can read more about it in the IRS’s Instructions for Requesting Copy of Fraudulent Returns.
Thankfully, the IRS is now more helpful in sharing fraudulent information to allow victims to take action to protect themselves.
— By Nancy J. Ekrem, CPA
Dewar Meeks + Ekrem pc
Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants