It is every taxpayer’s worst fear: You file your tax return electronically well ahead of the deadline, only to receive the dreaded notice that your return was rejected by the IRS. Why? Because someone else used your Social Security Number, or that of your spouse or dependents, to file a tax return. Now you must go through the identity theft checklist: report it to the IRS and contact your bank, credit card companies and major credit bureaus to place a “fraud alert” on your credit records.
Until a few weeks ago, that was the limit of what you could do. For the first time, however, taxpayers can find out more information about this fraud. The IRS recently announced that victims of identity theft are now able to request copies of bogus tax returns filed under their names.
To comply with federal privacy laws, return information will only be disclosed to individuals listed as the primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent return, and certain information will be redacted. The remaining information will allow you to see what information the identity thief may have about you, the victim, and your family.
Under the new IRS rules, the request for a copy of the fraudulent return must be submitted as a signed letter containing the following information:
- Your name and SSN
- Your mailing address
- Tax year(s) of the fraudulent return(s) you are requesting
- The following statement, with your signature beneath: “I declare that I am the taxpayer.”
- A copy of government-issued ID (for example, driver’s license or passport)
The letter and additional information should be mailed to:
P.O Box 9039
Andover, MA 01810-0939
While there is not an exact fulfillment time due to a number of factors related to the fraud case, you can expect to receive IRS acknowledgement of your request within 30 days of receipt of the letter and within 90 days you should receive the return or follow-up correspondence from the IRS.
This is an important change to be aware of heading into tax season. RKL reminds all of its clients to be safe and secure when conducting online business and to take steps to protect home computer networks using the latest anti-virus and defense software. Should the worst-case scenario come to pass and your identity has been used to file a fraudulent return, your RKL advisor is ready to help you through the steps to claim a copy of the return or make the request on your behalf.
Contributed by Chris A. Luppold, CPA, MBA, CGMA, a manager in RKL’s Tax Services Group. Chris has over 35 years experience in public accounting and provides services a wide range of areas including general business consulting, tax preparation, estate planning and tax planning for his clients.