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Recently issued tax identity theft PINs are valid for 2015 filings despite wrong date in IRS letters to taxpayers

Taxpayers who've had their identities stolen use special six-digit Identity Protection Personal Identification Numbers, or IP PINs, to file their returns. The IP PIN helps the Internal Revenue Service verify a taxpayer's identity and prevents someone else from falsely filing a tax return using the legitimate taxpayer's Social Security Number.

IRS Form 1040 taxpayer IP PIN section

If a return is e-filed with your Social Security Number and an incorrect or missing IP PIN, the IRS' system will reject it until you submit a return with the correct IP PIN or you file a paper Form 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ).

The IRS sends affected taxpayers new IP PINs every filing season. Last year, it issued more than 1.2 million of the special filing numbers. 

New Year, old date: This year's numbers were sent out last week. But apparently the IRS has the same problem with its document dating that many of us in writing checks in a new year.

The IRS' notices to taxpayers with their new IP PINs incorrectly indicated that the ID verification numbers are to be used for filing 2014 tax returns.

The IP PINs, however, actually are to be used for 2015 tax return filing.

Here's the IRS' explanation in its mea culpa announcement posted at

   Due to an error, taxpayers are receiving Identity Protection PIN letters with an incorrect year listed. Taxpayers and tax professionals should be advised the IP PIN listed on the CP 01A Notice dated Jan. 4, 2016, is valid for use on all individual tax returns filed in 2016.

   The notice incorrectly indicates the IP PIN issued is to be used for filing the 2014 tax return when the number is actually to be used for the 2015 tax return. The IRS emphasizes the IP PIN listed on the CP 01A notice is valid for the 2015 returns. Taxpayers and their tax professionals should use this PIN number for 2015 tax returns, which the IRS will begin accepting from taxpayers starting Jan. 19, 2016.

   The IRS apologizes for the confusion and any inconvenience.

Common, but troubling error: Hey, we've all been there, IRS. But it's not the best way to kick off a filing season, especially for taxpayers dealing with tax identity theft complications.

And the agency's tax year error is a bit more serious than you or I writing 2015 instead of 2016 on a check.

IP PIN taxpayers are already freaking out because they've had criminals try to claim their rightful (or more) refunds. They need the IRS to get things right in its efforts to help them meet their tax filing obligations under such difficult circumstances.

If you're one of those folks who got the misdated IP PIN letter, here's hoping the IRS follow-up and apology alleviates a little of this filing season's stress, and that you get your taxes done this year without any other complications.

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