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How to report tax scams and fraud

Getting an IP PIN is a smart taxpayer security move

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Most taxpayers get federal tax refunds.

Internal Revenue Service data complete through Oct. 27 shows that the agency received 160.5 million returns and issued nearly 105 million refunds that totaled more than $319 billion.

Not surprisingly, taxpayers who are getting cash back from Uncle Sam are among the first to file every tax season. That's also a good security move.

By getting their 1040 forms to the IRS early, they beat the criminals who might try to file fake returns under their names to claim their or even bigger fraudulent refunds.

But some folks must wait to file. They haven't received the tax documents necessary to complete their returns. Or personal circumstances take their focus away from taxes.

These later filing taxpayers might want to look into using an IRS Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, or IP PIN.

Extra filing security: An IP PIN is a special six-digit number issued by the IRS.

After several years of testing, the IRS opened the program in 2021 to all who have a Social Security number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Since only IP PIN recipients and the IRS know their number, the special code serves as a "secret weapon to protect taxpayers against identity thieves filing a bogus tax return," said IRS Danny Werfel.

"An identity thief trying to file a tax return in someone's name will be stopped cold if they don't have the code that IP PIN participants have," added Werfel.

The Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC), a federal advisory committee to the IRS, agrees with the IRS commissioner.

"The IP PIN is the number one security tool currently available to taxpayers from the IRS," ETAAC said in its 2022 annual report to Congress. "This tool is the key to making it more difficult for criminals to file false tax returns in the name of the taxpayer. In our view, the benefits of increased IP PIN use are many."

Getting an IP PIN: The IP PIN program is a totally volunteer program that appears to be gaining fans.

The IRS says that more than 8.1 million taxpayers now use an IP PIN to protect themselves against tax-related identity theft.

The quickest and easiest way to acquire an IP PIN is through the IRS' Get my IP PIN online tool, which is available from mid-January through mid-November.

Once you're at the special web page, you create an account, complete the prompted steps, and your IP PIN will be revealed to you.

IP PIN authentication issues: The process is pretty simple, but nothing is perfect.

If you tried to get an IP PIN earlier and were rejected during the identity authentication process, the IRS encourages you to try again. The tax agency says that part of the application continues to be refined.

That said, if you find you can't pass the IRS online identity authentication process, you have two options. You can file Form 15227 (EN-SP), Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN). Or you can visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC).

Form 15227 IP PIN application
See more tax forms and more about them at Tax Forms 2023.

Note that if you have to take the form filing or TAC route, delivery of your IP PIN could be delayed.

Other IP PIN items to note: Finally, a few other security and administrative items to keep in mind regarding your IP PIN.

The IRS will never email, text, or call a taxpayer to request an IP PIN.

Taxpayers should not reveal their IP PIN to anyone but their trusted tax software provider or tax preparer.

Neither a tax software provider nor a tax preparer should ask for an IP PIN except to complete a tax return. If someone is insistent about learning your IP PIN before that final step of filing, it likely is a scam.

Enter your IP PIN on any return, whether it is filed electronically or on paper. This includes any amended returns or returns for prior years. Doing so will help avoid processing delays or having the return rejected by the IRS.

Finally, if you opt in to the IP PIN program, you must get a newly generated IP PIN each January. This new number each year is an added security safeguard.

IP PIN timing: Now about that January date….

As first mentioned in the Getting an IP PIN section of this post, you have to wait until the new year to get one. The IRS' IP PIN page notes the online application tool is out of service until January 2024 for planned maintenance.

Sorry to get you all jazzed about a new tax identification number and then throw up a stop sign. So why did I? Because the IRS is touting the advantage of an IP PIN as part of this year's National Tax Security Awareness week.

The annual week — this is the eighth, which started on Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 1 — is one way the IRS and its Security Summit partners in state tax departments and the private sector tax industry alert taxpayers and tax professionals about ways to protect sensitive financial information.

If this security suggestion fits your tax situation, make a note or bookmark this post. Then head to in about six weeks to get an IP PIN.

You also might find these items of interest:



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