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Your Taxes and You: What Is an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number?

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The Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) is part of the IRS’s plan to prevent fraudulent refunds. An IP PIN is a six-digit number that the IRS assigns to eligible taxpayers to prevent fraudulent tax returns from being filed with their Social Security number (SSN).

IP PINs aren’t available to everyone, but if you qualify for one, it’s a good idea to get it. Read on to learn more about the IP PIN program, whether you might be eligible, and how to get one.

How to get an IP PIN for your taxes

The IP PIN program is voluntary. The IRS sends letters to some taxpayers inviting them to opt into the program. Other taxpayers can request an IP PIN online if they filed last year’s federal income tax return in one of 19 states or the District of Columbia.

To be eligible for an IP PIN, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. You received a letter (CP01A notice) from the IRS inviting you to request an IP PIN
  2. You filed your last federal tax return with an address in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas or Washington

If you qualify, follow these simple steps to get an IP PIN:

  1. Log in to IRS.gov or set up an account by first verifying your identity. You have an IRS account if you’ve previously ordered a tax transcript, viewed your tax account online or set up an online installment agreement.
  2. Click “Get Your IP PIN!” on this page. You may also call 1-800-908-4490 for personal assistance from Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. locally.
  3. Wait for your CP01A notice, which is sent by the IRS after you complete the online enrollment process. This form also has instructions on using your IP PIN.

When you’ll use your IP PIN

Once the IRS assigns an IP PIN, you’ll need it to file your federal income tax return. You’ll enter your IP PIN on Page 2 of your Form 1040, just to the right of your signature.

If you try to e-file your return without your IP PIN, the IRS will reject your return, and you’ll have to file by mail. If you send in a paper return without your IP PIN, it will take the IRS longer to process, and any potential refund will be delayed.

How an IP PIN protects you

An IP PIN prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your SSN.

Often, taxpayers don’t realize someone has filed a tax return using their SSN until their e-filed return is rejected, or they receive a notice from the IRS alerting them to a suspicious return. At that point, it’s clear their SSN has been compromised, and the identity thief can commit all sorts of financial fraud, from opening credit cards to using the SSN on a job application.

Using an IP PIN can’t ensure your SSN is safe, but if your SSN is stolen, you won’t have to worry about your tax refund being diverted into the thief’s account.

How to retrieve a lost IP PIN

If you misplaced your CP01A Notice and don’t have your IP PIN, you can log into the IRS’s Get an IP PIN online tool or call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 for assistance to have your IP PIN reissued.

FAQ: Your IP PIN

When will I receive my IP PIN?

The IRS sends out new IP PINs each year in December or January. If you apply for a new IP PIN or ask the IRS to reissue a lost IP PIN, it can take up to 21 days to receive it via mail.

Does my IP PIN expire?

The IRS issues new IP PINs each year. You can’t use a last year’s IP PIN again on this year’s tax return.

Are there other uses for my IP PIN?

IP PINs are only used for filing federal income tax returns, Form 1040. You don’t need an IP PIN to file an amended tax return, request an extension or apply for an installment agreement. It’s not used for any other purpose.

Can I file my taxes without an IP PIN?

The IP PIN program is voluntary. If you haven’t requested an IP PIN, you can continue filing your tax returns without it. However, once an IP PIN has been assigned, you won’t be able to e-file your federal income tax return without it. If you file a paper return without including your IP PIN, it will take longer to process.

How do I file my taxes if both my spouse and I receive IP PINs?

If both you and your spouse receive IP PINs, you’ll both need to enter them on your federal income tax return. Be sure to enter the correct IP PIN for each taxpayer and spouse on Page 2 of Form 1040.

How is an IP PIN different from an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)?

ITINs are issued to people who don’t qualify for an SSN but need to file a federal income tax return. You cannot use an ITIN in place of an IP PIN or vice versa.

Bottom line

If you’re eligible to apply for an IP PIN, having this extra security when filing your tax return isn’t a bad idea. Security breaches seem to occur on an almost daily basis. Even Equifax, one of the major credit reporting agencies, had a security breach that compromised Americans’ personal data.

If you’re the victim of identity theft, having an IP PIN at least means you won’t have to deal with a fraudulently filed tax return on top of everything else.

 

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