One way to protect yourself from identity theft when it comes to filing your taxes is to opt into Internal Revenue Service’s identity protection PIN program, which can be done starting mid-January 2021. The identity protection PIN, or IP PIN, is a six-digit number that helps filers verify their identity and accept their tax returns.
This is the first time that anyone can voluntarily opt into the program. Before, the programs was restricted to victims of identity theft.
“When you have this special code, it prevents someone else from filing a tax return with your Social Security number,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “The fastest way to get an Identity Protection PIN is to use our online tool, but remember you must pass a rigorous authentication process.”
The IP PIN is valid for a year and any primary, secondary taxpayer or dependent can obtain it as long as they can meet the identity proof requirements.
If you want to opt into the program, you have to go through an identity verification process. Here’s what you need to know.
How to get an IP PIN
If you register for the program voluntarily, you should register on the IRS website and pass the Secure Access authentication. A registration would typically take 15 minutes and you’d need the following information:
Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
Tax filing status and mailing address
One financial account number linked to your name (Credit card, student loan, mortgage or home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or auto loan)
Mobile phone linked to your name
Those who can’t pass the Secure Access authentication can instead complete Form 15227 if their income is $72,000 or less.
Those who don’t meet the eligibility criteria to file Form 15227 and can’t pass the Secure Access authentication can make an in-person appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, the IRS will mail your PIN in a CP01A notice every year.
Taxpayers who pass the authentication process will get their PIN for the following tax year. The IP PIN tool is generally unavailable mid-November through mid-January each year.
How to use an IP PIN
Input the IP PIN when prompted by your tax software provider or give it to the tax professional who prepares your tax return.
Don’t tell anyone, except your tax professional, your IP PIN. The IRS also won’t ask for your IP PIN. If you receive any phone calls, emails or texts request for your IP PIN, they are scams.
If you lose your IP PIN
If you get the annual IP PIN by mail, you may use the Get an IP PIN tool to retrieve your number if you lose or don’t receive your CP01A Notice. If you can’t to your IP PIN online, you can call the IRS at 800-908-4490 to get your IP PIN reissued.
If you file your taxes without your IP PIN
Thee IRS will reject your electronic return and you won't be able to e-file your taxes. Any paper returns without an IP PIN will go through additional screenings to verify your identity, which could delay any refund you’re expecting.
Read more information and tips in our Taxes section