IRS Expands Assistance to ID Theft Victims

The IRS has announced that victims of identity theft and refund fraud may obtain copies of bogus returns filed under their names. Victims or their authorized representatives may request copies of fraudulent Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, or 1040NR-EZ.

identity theft 2Take Away. Taxpayers need to be very proactive against identity theft, Sheila Brandenberg, Sheila Brandenberg, CPA, New York, told Wolters Kluwer. Among the steps individuals can take are regular checks of their credit reports, update the antivirus programs on their home computers, and make passwords more complex. Brandenberg, who serves on the Family Office Committee and the Personal Finance Committee of the New York State Society of CPAs, noted that some higher income individuals have had their personal computers hijacked by cybercriminals and held for ransom payments.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when a criminal uses an individual’s Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Generally, criminals file fraudulent returns early in the filing season. As a result, the taxpayer may be unaware that he or she is a victim of identity theft and refund fraud until they attempt to file a legitimate return.

Compliance Pointer

Identity thieves are aggressive with telephone scams, Brandenberg told Wolters Kluwer. “I tell my clients to never engage these individuals in conversation. The IRS never makes threats (such as imprisonment or deportation) to collect taxes,” Brandenberg said.

A victim of identity theft or a person authorized to obtain the identity theft victim’s tax information may request a redacted copy of a fraudulent return that was filed and accepted by the IRS using the identity theft victim’s name and SSN, the IRS explained on its website. The victim’s name and SSN must be listed as either the primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent return. The IRS explained that it will not disclose return information to any person listed only as a dependent because of privacy rules.

Requests for copies of fraudulent returns must be made in writing and include the name of the taxpayer and his or her SSN, mailing address, tax year(s) of the fraudulent returns being requested, and a statement declaring that the individual is the affected taxpayer. Along with the letter, taxpayers must include a copy of government-issued identification. A taxpayer’s authorized representative may also request copies of fraudulent returns.

Reference: TRC IRS: 66,304.