2014 Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) Pilot: Questions and Answers
What is the Identity Protection PIN pilot?
As part of its comprehensive identity theft strategy, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a limited pilot program to allow some taxpayers who filed their returns last year from Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia to receive an identity protection PIN (IP PIN). This additional layer of security is available to taxpayers who filed in one of those three locations last year and who need, request and successfully obtain an Electronic Filing PIN (e-file PIN) using the online application this year.
This pilot is in addition to the 1.2 million taxpayers who received an Identity Protection PIN from the IRS for this filing season as victims of identity theft with already resolved cases.
Why is the IRS focusing on those three areas?
This pilot program was initiated in areas where the IRS has seen significant identity theft activity. Georgia, Florida and the District of Columbia were identified as having the highest per capita percentage of tax-related identity theft last year.
Who from those areas will be offered the IP PIN?
Taxpayers who filed their returns last year in Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia with a valid Social Security number and who have applied for and received an e-file PIN are eligible to participate in the pilot. The IRS encourages taxpayers who are offered this opportunity to complete the process to get the IP PIN.
Why is the IP PIN offered to a limited number of taxpayers?
As with all pilots, this opportunity is being offered to a limited number of taxpayers. The knowledge gained from the pilot will help the IRS determine if or when the IP PIN can be offered to a larger number of taxpayers.
What is the long-term plan for allowing all taxpayers to access an IP PIN?
The IRS is continually looking for additional ways to secure taxpayers’ accounts and to combat identity theft. The Service has dramatically improved the prevention, detection and resolution of ID theft cases. At the conclusion of the pilot, the IRS will evaluate the program’s effectiveness before deciding how to proceed with the program.
FAQs for Individual Taxpayers
How will it be offered to me?
Eligible taxpayers will be offered the opportunity to apply for the IP PIN if they need and request an e-file PIN using the online application while completing their federal tax return. They will be taken to a new IP PIN web application to validate their identity before receiving the IP PIN.
If I’m offered the IP PIN, does this mean I am an identity theft victim?
No. The pilot is not limited to just identity theft victims. The main purpose of the pilot is to add an additional layer of protection to taxpayers who live in areas where tax-related identity theft is more prevalent.
How do I verify my identity on the web application?
Before a taxpayer can obtain an IP PIN, the IRS must ensure the filer is the correct taxpayer. This is done using a new web application where the taxpayer will be asked a series of questions only the taxpayer should be able to answer.
What if I can’t validate my identity?
The IRS will not issue an IP PIN to a taxpayer until that person’s identity has been verified. If you are invited to participate in this program but you are unable to authenticate your identity using the online application, you should file your return as you normally would, without the IP PIN. Because there is no IP PIN requirement, filing a return without an IP PIN should not delay processing your return. If you are expecting a refund, you should receive it within the normal time frames — fewer than 21 days if you file your return electronically.
How do I use the IP PIN?
If you are filing electronically, the software program you use should tell you where to enter the IP PIN. If it doesn’t prompt you to enter the IP PIN, contact the software provider’s help desk. Because of the variations in software packages, the IRS cannot provide this information. [Note: Make sure you don’t confuse your 6 digit IP PIN with the 5 digit e-file PIN you will use to electronically file your taxes.]
If you are filing on paper, you must hand write the IP PIN in the designated field (boxes) in the signature section of the form, just to the right of the spouse’s occupation. The IP PIN field is labeled “Identity Protection PIN.” [Note: You only need to write the IP PIN in the boxes if you are filing as the primary (first SSN reported on the tax form)].
Will my spouse need an IP PIN if we’re filing a joint return?
Your spouse will only need an IP PIN if you file a joint return electronically and your spouse has either received an IP PIN from the IRS or chooses to obtain an IP PIN using the online application. Failure to input the IP PIN for any taxpayer who has an IP PIN requirement will result in the electronic return being rejected.
If filing a joint tax return on paper, only one IP PIN is required on the return, even if both spouses have one.
Must I file electronically to use the IP PIN?
No, the IP PIN may be used on either electronic or paper returns.
If I receive an IP PIN, am I required to use it?
Yes, if you received an IP PIN, you must use it on your Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ or 1040PR/SS whether you file it electronically or by paper to avoid being rejected or delayed.
What will happen if I don’t use the PIN I was issued?
If you are filing electronically and do not use the IP PIN you have been issued, your return will reject and not be processed. If you are filing by paper, your return will be subjected to additional review to validate your identity. This review will delay the processing of your tax return and the issuance of any refund that you may be due. This increased validation is for your own protection.
If I get an IP PIN, am I protected for the entire filing season?
For the purposes of this pilot, your tax return is protected from identity theft only from the date you are assigned the IP PIN, and does not cover any actions related to your account prior to that date. However, the IRS continues to protect taxpayers by aggressively improving and refining both the number and efficiency of the identity theft filters, which are used to identify potentially fraudulent returns related to identity theft prior to the processing of the return and release of any refund.
What if I moved to another state since I filed my return last year?
You may be offered the IP PIN as part of the pilot if you filed your tax return last year from Georgia, Florida or the District of Columbia last year and have a valid Social Security number.
FAQs for Tax Professionals
How will I know if a client is offered the IP PIN during this pilot?
The only way a tax professional would know their client has been offered the IP PIN is when or if the client discloses it.
Must the IP PIN be used in lieu of the Practitioner PIN?
No. The IP PIN should be used in conjunction with the Practitioner PIN.
Can I offer it to other clients?
Not at this time. This is a limited pilot program in its initial stages. The IRS is testing this application and the internal work processes needed to implement the IP PIN program.