Tax-related identity theft spikes during the filing season. Many taxpayers discover for the first time that they are victims of identity theft when they receive a letter from the IRS.

A taxpayer may receive a letter when the IRS stops suspicious tax returns that have indications of being identity theft but contains a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number. Once the identity is verified, the taxpayers can confirm whether or not they filed the return in question. If they did not file the return, the IRS can take steps at that time to assist them

One communication that the IRS uses is Letter 5071C. This letter is mailed through the U.S. Postal Service to the address on the return. It asks the taxpayer to verify his or her identity in order for the IRS to complete processing of the return if the taxpayer did file it or reject the return if the taxpayer did not file it. The IRS will explain how taxpayers can contact the agency. The IRS has recommended that taxpayers should have available a copy of the letter they received, their prior year’s return (if one was filed) and the current year’s return (if one was filed), including supporting documents for each return. This would encompass Forms W-2’s, 1099’s, Schedule C, Schedule F, and other supporting documents.

Note: The IRS never asks a taxpayer to verify his or identity by email. If a taxpayer receives such an email, it is a scam, sent by criminals trying to trick the taxpayer into revealing personal and financial information.

Another communication that the IRS uses is Letter 4883C. This letter also is mailed through the U.S. Postal Service and asks taxpayers to verify their identities. The IRS will explain what steps to take.

If you have received a letter from the IRS related to possible identity theft, please contact our office. We can help you navigate the IRS and respond to the agency’s questions.