Tax season provides an opportunity for criminals to commit tax-related identity theft using stolen taxpayer information to file tax returns and claim fraudulent tax refunds. Recovering from tax identity theft can be time-consuming and might delay any legitimate tax refund you may be owed.
One way to proactively prevent tax identity theft is to sign up for an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN).
What Is an IP PIN?
An IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents criminals from filing a tax return using another taxpayer’s Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The IRS provides IP PINs directly to taxpayers, and they can be used to verify the taxpayer’s identity when they file their electronic or paper tax return.
IP PINs are only valid for one year. The IRS reissues new ones to taxpayers enrolled in the program each tax season.
Do You Need an IP PIN?
Most U.S. taxpayers don’t typically need an IP PIN. They are only mandated by the IRS when you are a confirmed victim of tax-related identity theft. But you can also request one if you want added security around your tax returns.
Taxpayers who have been issued an IP PIN need to provide it when they file their tax returns. If you file an electronic return without your IP PIN once you receive one, it can be rejected. If you file a paper return without one, it can be subject to additional screenings to verify your identity.
So even if a criminal has your SSN or ITIN, they would also need your IP PIN to file a return using your identity.
Who Is Eligible for an IP PIN?
IP PINs add an extra layer of security to tax returns and are valuable for victims of tax-related identity theft. But anyone who is concerned about identity theft can also proactively sign up for an IP PIN to help prevent becoming a victim.
When you are a confirmed victim of tax-related identity theft that the IRS has since resolved, the agency will mail you a CP01A notice with a new IP PIN each year. You automatically receive a new IP PIN annually.
If you don’t already have an IP PIN, you can request one. Anyone with an SSN or ITIN who can verify their identity is eligible to enroll in the IP PIN program. Spouses and dependents who can verify their identity are also eligible for an IP PIN.
How to Get an IP PIN
There are a few different ways to get an IP PIN:
Confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft who have had their issue resolved with the IRS receive a CP01A notice with their new IP PIN each year in the mail.
If you are not a victim of tax-related identity theft, you can opt into the IP PIN program using the online “Get an IP PIN” tool, which is generally available from mid-January to mid-November. You need to register for an online IRS.gov account and verify your identity, which the IRS says takes about 15 minutes.
To register, you need to provide your email address, Social Security number or Individual Tax Identification number, tax filing status, mailing address, and one financial account number linked to your name. This can be the last eight digits of a qualifying credit card, the account number listed on your student loan statement, the account number on your mortgage or home equity loan, the account number of your Home Equity Line of Credit, or the account number of your auto loan.
You also need to provide a mobile phone number linked to your name so that the IRS can send you an activation code. If you can’t provide this, the IRS can send your activation code by mail.
File a Paper Application
You can also request an IP PIN using a paper application. If you have a valid SSN or ITIN and your adjusted gross income on your last tax return is below $73,000 for Individuals or $146,000 for Married Filing Joint and you can’t use the online tool, you have the option to use Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number.
Request In-Person Authentication
If you can’t verify your information online or with Form 15227, you can make an appointment for an in-person meeting at a local Taxpayer Assistance Center. You need to provide a government-issued picture ID and another identification document to prove your identity. After that, you can receive your IP PIN in the mail within three weeks.
Prevent Identity Theft
Another way to reduce the risk of tax identity theft is to sign up for identity theft protection services. IdentityIQ identity theft protection services help protect you by monitoring your identity, notifying you of possible suspicious activity with real-time alerts, and help recover your identity quickly if you become a victim.
Can I file my taxes without an IP PIN?
If the IRS assigned you an IP PIN, you must use it to confirm your identity for that calendar year. But if you don’t have an IP PIN, you do not need to use one.
How do I find my IRS PIN?
If you don’t have the CP01A notice sent to you by the IRS, you can retrieve your IP PIN by visiting the online “Get an IP PIN” tool, which is generally available from mid-January through mid-November, or by calling 1-800-908-4490.
Do I get a new IP PIN every year?
Yes, you are assigned a new IP PIN every year.