If you believe a false tax return has been filed under your name and social security number, you will need to follow certain procedures that differ from the way you would normally file your tax return.
How would you know if your identity has been used to file a false tax return? Typically, you discover this when you try to file your return electronically and the IRS will not accept it. Also, the IRS may send you a notice informing you that your income tax refund is being held pending investigation of specific items of income and deduction on your return.
So, you haven’t filed your 2012 return yet but someone else did. What do you do? Take the following steps to address this with the IRS:
1. If you received a notice, respond with an explanation that you have not filed your income tax return and you believe a false return was filed.
2. Enclose IRS Form 14039 with the response. Form 14039 is an Identity Theft Affidavit.
3. When filing your 2012 return, you must file the return on paper forms, rather than electronically, and include:
- A copy of Form 14039
- A copy of your identification (passport, driver’s license, social security card or other federal identification)
- A copy of a police report, if you report the stolen identity.
4. Your return will be filed at your usual regional service center for initial processing. It will then be transferred to Andover, MA, which is the national location for the IRS identity theft division. The initial processing of your return will be significantly delayed. The IRS will investigate both returns (yours and the false return) to determine which is correct. They do so via U.S. mail correspondence. They will not call or email. It can take between 4–8 months to work through the process so don’t expect a quick resolution.
5. The IRS will monitor your account for three years to prevent further incidences of false reporting.
You should take additional steps to protect your financial health:
1. Contact the Social Security Administration's fraud hotline. Their phone number is 1.800.772.1213. You can also visit their website.
2. Report your identity theft to the FTC online or call them at 1.877.438.4338.
3. File a local police report, if they will accept a report.
4. Contact the fraud departments at the three major credit bureaus.
No one wants to be the victim of tax return fraud. If you are, contact Jeffrey A. Ring to help you gain control of the situation.