IRS Expands Identity Protection Pin Opt-In Program

Thoughtware Alert Published: Dec 10, 2020
Pillars on a Government building

The IRS has announced it will expand the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program in January 2021 to all taxpayers with either a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The identity protection personal identification number (IP PIN) is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent federal income tax returns. This program will be voluntary to opt in to, but due to security risks, the program is mandatory for confirmed identity theft victims.

How to Receive an IP PIN

Beginning in mid-January, the IRS will launch an online portal where, after completing an authentication process, taxpayers can immediately receive IP PINs. In a shift from prior policy, taxpayers who want to voluntarily opt in to the IP PIN program don’t need to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and instead can use the online tool to receive their IP PIN.

This online tool uses Secure Access authentication, which relies on multiple factors to verify a person’s identity. A taxpayer interested in using this method should have the following information ready for verification purposes:

  • Email address
  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Tax filing status and mailing address
  • One of the below financial account numbers linked to the taxpayer’s name:
    • Last eight digits of a credit card (no American Express, debit, or corporate cards) 
    • Student loan (note, the IRS can’t verify student loans issued by Nelnet)
    • Mortgage or home equity loan 
    • Home equity line of credit 
    • Auto loan
  • Mobile phone linked to the taxpayer’s name (for faster registration) or ability to receive an activation code by mail

Alternatively, taxpayers with incomes of $72,000 or less may complete Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, and mail or fax it to the IRS. Once the IRS receives the taxpayer’s Form 15227, an IRS assistor will call to verify the taxpayer’s identity with a series of questions. After successful authentication, the IP PIN will be mailed to the taxpayer.

Taxpayers who are unable to verify their identities remotely or who are ineligible to file a Form 15227 may make an appointment with a Taxpayer Assistance Center to go through the verification process in person, using two forms of picture identification. An IP PIN will be mailed to the taxpayer within three weeks of the in-person verification. 

Spouses and dependents also are eligible for an IP PIN if they can pass the identity proofing process.

Implications of Requesting an IP PIN

Taxpayers who opt in to this program will be required to properly enter their IP PIN on electronic and paper tax returns to avoid rejections and delays. The IP PIN is valid for one year only, so a new IP PIN will need to be obtained every January. Note, however, that for confirmed victims of tax-related identity theft, the IRS will automatically mail IP PINs annually to confirmed victims and participants enrolled in the program prior to 2019. Such taxpayers also may use the online portal to retrieve lost IP PINs. There is no opt-out option for confirmed victims.

Taxpayers should not share their IP PIN with anyone other than their trusted tax advisor. The IRS will never call to request a taxpayer’s IP PIN, so the IRS urges participants to be vigilant to guard against scams attempting to obtain IP PINs. 

To opt in to this program, taxpayers should monitor this IRS page, which is expected to go live in mid-January for this purpose. You also can consult your BKD trusted tax advisor or submit the Contact Us form below for more information. 

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