Tax Identity Theft
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security Number to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
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Tax identity thieves steal taxpayers’ names and Taxpayer Identification Numbers (like Social Security Numbers or Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers) for one of two reasons:
To file a return to get your refund. This is the most common type of tax identity theft. You find out about it when you try to file a return, but the IRS rejects it because someone already filed a return using your information. If you file a paper return, the IRS will send you a notice telling you the same thing. Chances are, you’re the victim of tax identity theft.
To get a job and report the income under your Social Security Number. This type of fraud is an even bigger headache to resolve than a stolen refund. If this happens, you’ll find out about it later in the year, when the IRS sends you a notice about income that you didn’t report or pay taxes on. In fact, the income isn’t yours at all, but was earned by a thief and reported under your identity. Now, the IRS is auditing you or trying to collect taxes from you. These cases can take about a year to resolve. During that time, you’ll receive IRS notices and may even have your refunds frozen until the issue is resolved.
Learn what you can do about tax refund fraud.
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Related tax terms
Identity Theft Victim Assistance (IDTVA)
Related IRS notices
IRS Notice CP01 - Identity Theft Claim Acknowledgement
IRS Notice CP01E - Employment Related Identity Theft Notice
IRS Notice CP01B - Request for Additional Information to Process Your Return
IRS Notice CP01S - Message About Your Identity Theft Claim
IRS Notice CP01A - The IRS Assigned You an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN)