Get a Copy of the Fraudulent Tax Return
Victims of tax identity theft are the unfortunate folks whose Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number was used by a crook to file a fraudulent tax return. The crook’s end game–to steal illegal tax refunds from the IRS and leave the victim on the hook for tax problems.
The process for a tax identity theft victim to get tax returns processed by the IRS, and sometimes by a state tax department, can be frustrating at best and often takes months to resolve. Before the summer of 2015 the victim was not able to even get a copy of the fraudulent tax return. That changed when the IRS revised a privacy provision and set up a new procedure to enable victims of tax identity theft to request a copy of the fraudulent tax return. The request can be for copies for the current tax year and back six years.
What you Need to Do
Here’s the procedure, step-by-step–there isn’t an IRS form to use.
Prepare a signed letter with the following information:
- Your name and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number
- Your mailing address
- Tax year(s) of the fraudulent return(s) you are requesting
- The following statement, ” I declare that I am the taxpayer.”
- Your signature
- A copy of your government-issued identification with a photo (state issued ID, drivers license, passport, etc.) **Practitioner’s tip: Make sure the copy is very readable. This may require that you enlarge the drivers license and lighten the toner or use a color copier.
What if your child is a victim of tax identity theft?
- You can request a copy of the fraudulent return using the same procedure with the additional items added to the letter;
- Your relationship to the victim of identity theft
- Your child’s name and Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number
- Your child’s mailing address
- Your centralized authorization number on file with the IRS, if you have been assigned one by the IRS for an authorization on file for the tax year of the fraudulent return. You aren’t required to have this if you are the parent or legal guardian of the child.
- The following statement, “I declare that I am the person authorized to obtain the tax information requested.”
- Your signature
- A copy of your government-issued identification with a photo (state issued ID, drivers license, passport, etc.)
Sending the Request
Mail it to: IRS, PO Box 9039, Andover, MA 01810-0939
I always recommend mailing via the United States Postal Service via Certified Mail. Don’t use a kiosk or the USPS website, go to the desk for in-person certification. Make sure the postal clerk enters the correct zip code on your receipt before you pay for your mailing. Be sure to print the proof of delivery and keep both the receipt and proof in your tax file.
Can the IRS reject the request?
Yes. The information in your request has to match certain information the IRS has on file for you or meet other criteria. See the following list for the most common rejection reasons.
- The address on the request has to match the address for you in the IRS database. If it doesn’t the request will be rejected.
- You or your child must have been a primary or secondary taxpayer on the fraudulent return, not a dependent.
- The fraudulent return has to be filed as a personal tax return, not a tax return using a primary business tax form.
- Your request will be rejected if the identity theft case is still open and not resolved.
What information will be the IRS let you see from the fraudulent tax return?
The IRS still has privacy laws it must follow, even on fraudulent tax returns. They will redact (black out) the following information:
- Entire name of primary or secondary taxpayer, except the first four letters of the last name. Fewer if the last name is 4 letters or less.
- Entire address, except the street name
- Entire names and addresses of anyone else on the tax return.
- Identification numbers of primary or secondary taxpayer except for the last four digits
- Personally identifiable numbers of anyone else on the tax return
- Telephone numbers, except for the last four digits
- Bank routing and account numbers, except for the last four digits
- Note that the redaction is also going to remove information about who prepared the tax return as well.
What else should you do if you are the victim of tax identity theft?
The IRS has a Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft you can review and follow. You should also follow the recommendations from the Federal Trade Commission for victims of identity theft. You should file a police report.
Seek professional help from a tax professional, such as an Enrolled Agent, to work for you through the process. Enrolled Agents are federally authorized tax practitioners who are admitted to practice before the IRS in all 50 states. These professionals, with an approved Power of Attorney, can deal with the IRS and state tax departments on your behalf.
About the Author
Judy Coker, EA, CAA has been an Enrolled Agent since 2008 and a professional tax preparer since 2003. Over the years she has helped many taxpayers with tax problems, including tax identity theft. She meets with local clients at her office in Rogers, Arkansas and with long distance clients via video-conferencing.