Identity protection PIN program expands

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The IRS is expanding to seven additional states its voluntary program for taxpayers who wish to obtain identity protection personal identification numbers (IP PINs) and are not currently victims of tax return identity theft. The pilot program originally involved Washington, D.C., Florida, and Georgia. IP PINs will now be available in seven more states: California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Those states report the highest number of identity thefts to the Federal Trade Commission.

An IP PIN is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to prevent their Social Security number (SSN) from being used on fraudulent federal income tax returns. It allows the IRS to verify taxpayers’ identities when they file their return. This prevents a criminal from filing a tax return using the IP PIN holder’s SSN.

The voluntary program permits taxpayers who last year filed a tax return from one of those states to obtain an IP PIN by using the IRS’s Get an IP PIN tool to authenticate their identities. To obtain an IP PIN, taxpayers must validate their identities through a two-factor authentication process called Secure Access. The pilot program will not have a manual option for taxpayers who fail to authenticate their identities.

Any taxpayer in the listed states may obtain an IP PIN. The IRS will continue to issue by mail IP PINs to taxpayers who are confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft. However, these taxpayers may also use the Get an IP PIN tool to obtain an IP PIN immediately.

Once the IRS determines its systems can handle the expansion of the program to the additional states, it hopes to be able to offer it to taxpayers in every state.

The AICPA has long supported expansion of the IP PIN system and has urged the IRS to consider issuing IP PINs to all individuals. (See, for example, the AICPA comment letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee dated Sept. 15, 2015.)

Sally Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

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