The April 15th deadline for the filing of federal income taxes has come and gone, but if you have become a victim of income tax identity theft this tax season, your problems have only just begun. Income tax identity theft occurs when an identity thief files an income tax return using the name and Social Security number of a legitimate taxpayer and claims a refund based generally on a counterfeit W-2. If you discover that you are a victim of income tax identity theft this year, your problems have just started. According to a recently released report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), although the IRS has made some progress in assisting the innocent victims of income tax identity theft in getting their legitimate refunds, it still takes, on average, 278 days to resolve the claim of a victim of income tax identity theft although the IRS routinely tells taxpayers that they can expect their claims to be resolved within 180 days. According to the TIGTA report, the range of time it takes the IRS to resolve an income tax identity theft victim’s account and pay the legitimate refund ranged from a commendable low of 16 days to an inexcusable high of 762 days.
So what should you do if you are a new victim of income tax identity theft? Filing a police report immediately is very important in order to document your claim. Although this is the era of electronic communications, the next thing you should do is mail to the IRS a paper tax return with an attached Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit and the police report. According to the IRS, this will shave an average of 54 days off the time it takes the IRS to process your claim. Your case will then be assigned to an IRS employee to assist you with clearing your name and getting your refund. As a victim of identity theft, you also are eligible to receive an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) to use for future income tax returns to protect you from becoming a victim again of income tax identity theft. You also should put a credit freeze on your credit report because if someone is able to file an income tax return on your behalf, they have access to your Social Security number which they could also use to access your credit report and obtain credit in your name. Putting a credit freeze on your credit report will thwart future attempts by an identity thief to access your credit. You can find information about credit freezes and how to put one on your credit reports at Experian, Equifax and Transunion by going to the Archives section of Scamicide.