IRS clarifies identity theft procedures

An affidavit is needed only when an unauthorized return has been filed using the taxpayer's Social Security number.
By Sebastian B. Murolo, CPA

With the issuance of Fact Sheet FS-2018-6 in April, the IRS clarified procedures that apply to taxpayer identity theft. Taxpayers who attempt to e-file a tax return that the IRS rejects because a return bearing the taxpayer's Social Security number has already been filed should file Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, by attaching it to a paper tax return and mailing it to the IRS. Upon its receipt, the IRS will investigate, clear the account, and then process the paper tax return.

Form 14039 is a fillable form available on irs.gov and on the Federal Trade Commission's website, ftc.gov.

The IRS identifies suspicious tax returns based on filters and pulls them for review. Subsequently, the IRS sends Letter 5071C, 4883C, or 5747C to the taxpayer asking him or her to contact the IRS and verify his or her identity. In these cases, Form 14039 need not be filed.

Letter 5071C asks the taxpayer to verify his or her identity using an online tool and to tell the IRS if he or she filed the tax return in question. No identity theft has been confirmed in this instance. However, if the taxpayer does not respond, the return will not be processed. Letter 4883C asks the taxpayer to call the IRS to verify his or her identity and whether he or she filed the tax return. Letter 5747C is for those who have been a victim of a data breach. These individuals may be asked to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identity.

  • Fact Sheet FS-2018-6

— By Sebastian B. Murolo, CPA, MBA, assistant professor, Queensborough Community College, CUNY, Bayside, N.Y.

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