Time to opt in for an IP PIN?

June 7, 2021

By Sebastian B. Murolo, CPA

To combat identity theft, the IRS since 2011 has aided certain taxpayers by issuing them an identity protection personal identification number (IP PIN), which helps the IRS verify taxpayers' identity and accept their filed tax returns. After a progressively larger pilot program, the IRS in mid-January opened the program nationwide to allow all eligible taxpayers to opt in to receive an IP PIN. More taxpayers are now likely to turn to their tax preparers and advisers to help them decide whether to do so.

Initially, the IRS unilaterally issued an IP PIN to taxpayers whose identities had been stolen and used on a fraudulent tax return the IRS had received. Subsequently, the program was also made available to taxpayers who could document their identities had been stolen or compromised in other ways, by filing Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit. The pilot program then allowed taxpayers in a limited number of states to voluntarily opt in, starting in 2015. Finally, in News Release IR-2021-9, the IRS announced the program's nationwide expansion to all taxpayers who can verify their identity by specified procedures, effective Jan. 12, 2021.

Taxpayers may now voluntarily opt in to the IP PIN program as a proactive way to protect themselves from tax-related identity theft. Spouses and dependents are also eligible for an IP PIN. The IRS mails taxpayers who opt in a CP01A Notice containing their six-digit IP PIN or assigns one via its "Get an IP PIN" online tool described below. As with confirmed identity theft victims, taxpayers opting in will receive a CP01A Notice each year with their new IP PIN or retrieve it from Get an IP PIN.

HOW TO OPT IN

Taxpayers may opt in either by mailing or faxing Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN), by using the Get an IP PIN tool, or visiting an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in person. To file Form 15227, taxpayers will need:

  • A valid Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN);
  • Adjusted gross income of $72,000 or less; and
  • Access to a telephone.

Upon processing the form, the IRS will then call the taxpayer and validate his or her identity. If their identity is successfully validated, the taxpayer will receive a CP01A Notice with an IP PIN for the next filing season.

The Get an IP PIN tool (available at irs.gov/GetAnIPPIN) can be used for a current filing season and will usually be quicker and more convenient at other times as well. Still, taxpayers using it must go through a secure access authentication process if they do not already have an IRS online account. Information they must have ready includes an email address, their SSN or ITIN, and other information listed at irs.gov/SecureAccess. The Get an IP PIN tool is generally unavailable from mid-November through mid-January each year, the IRS advises.

Taxpayers who cannot verify their identities online or by phone and who are ineligible to file Form 15227 may verify their identity in person at a Taxpayer Assistance Center. Taxpayers should bring two forms of identification, including one government-issued photo identification. After a taxpayer's identity has been verified through the in-person process, an IP PIN will be mailed to the taxpayer within three weeks.

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