Identity protection

In the past, the IRS has assigned verification numbers to victims of identity theft to file their tax returns, if requested by the victimized individual. These numbers are referred to as identity protection (IP) PINs. The IP PIN is a six-digit code known only to the taxpayer and the IRS. It helps prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns using a taxpayer’s personally identifiable information.

The IP PIN serves as the key to an individual’s tax account. Electronically filed returns that do not contain the correct IP PIN will be rejected, and paper returns will go through additional scrutiny for fraud.

The IRS launched the IP PIN program nearly a decade ago to protect confirmed identity theft victims from ongoing tax-related fraud. In recent years, the IRS has expanded the program to specific states where taxpayers can opt into the IP PIN program. Now, the voluntary program is going nationwide.

Key things you should know about the IP PIN opt-in program:

  • The program is voluntary.
  • You must pass a rigorous identity verification process before IRS will issue you an IP PIN.
  • Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
  • An IP PIN is valid for a calendar year, and a new IP PIN must be obtained each year.
  • The online tool to apply for IP PINs 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 professional. 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.

If you want an IP PIN for 2021, go to IRS.gov/IPPIN and use the Get an IP PIN tool. This online process will require that you verify your identity using the Secure Access authentication process if you 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 (Identity Theft Affidavit) to opt into the program.

After you have authenticated your identity, a 2021 IP PIN will immediately be revealed. Once in the program, this PIN must be used when prompted for electronic tax returns or entered by hand near the signature line on paper tax returns. All taxpayers are encouraged to first use the online IP PIN tool to obtain their IP PIN. Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online have options, as explained next.

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 it to the IRS. An IRS customer service representative will contact the taxpayer and verify their identity by phone. Taxpayers should have their prior year’s 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.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible to 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, an IP PIN will be mailed to these taxpayers each year.

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 have questions related to the IP PIN program, please call.