Along with tax season comes the season of tax identification theft. Those who have become victims know how frustrating the experience can be.
Until now, if you were a victim of tax identity theft, you would be unable to receive information from the IRS about the depth of the fraud. Many frustrated taxpayers have tried to get copies of the fraudulently filed tax returns. The IRS has repeatedly refused freedom of information requests to get these copies.
In a recent announcement, the IRS has changed course on requests to get copies of fraudulently filed tax returns. As long as you follow their instructions, you are now able to get copies of what thieves attempted to do with your tax information. But be forewarned. The IRS may black out information on the requested return that does not pertain to you. They will try to present you with enough of the falsely filed tax return to allow you to determine the depth of the data that has been stolen.
Why the theft information may be important
- You can see what personal information the thieves have. What has been compromised? Name, address, and Social Security Number? Do they have your dependent’s or spouse's information? Perhaps they also have your income and withholding data. Knowing this will help you plan the extent of data protection you will need.
- There may be clues as to where the identity theft occurred. Of the information stolen, who had access to it? Did the data breach of your identity happen through the IRS or somewhere else?
- There may be more tax years impacted than you thought. Request information from the year you first became aware of the identity theft at the IRS. But you may wish to request information in a prior year and in the year following the theft. The IRS has access to up to six years of tax returns. Try to determine whether the theft is ongoing is a one-time occurrence.
The request requires specific information. Here is a link to the IRS announcement: Instructions for Requesting Copy of Fraudulent Returns
Thankfully, the IRS’ recent decision to share this fraudulent information is allowing victims to take some action to protect themselves.