As we prepare for yet another tax season, we also must prepare for telephone calls from taxpayers who have discovered that tax returns already have been filed in their names under their Social Security Numbers.
Identity thieves are constantly devising new ways to steal from victims, and cases of identity tax refund fraud continue to astronomically increase year after year. In 2013, the IRS estimated that $5.2 billion in fraudulent tax refunds were paid to scammers. That number skyrocketed to an estimated $21 billion in 2014. One of the biggest ways thieves are able to access confidential tax information is simply by stealing W-2s and other tax forms from mailboxes every January when they are required by law to be delivered to taxpayers.
If a fraudulent tax return is filed in your name, the IRS likely will refuse to process your legitimate tax return. So, what do you do if you get a notice from the IRS that a tax return has already been filed in your name? According to the IRS, here are the steps you need to take:
If you receive a notice from the IRS that leads you to believe someone may have fraudulently used your Social Security Number, notify the IRS immediately IN WRITING by responding to the name and number printed on the IRS notice or letter. We also recommend that you send your response to the IRS via USPS Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and keep a copy of your response so that you have proof that you timely responded to the IRS notice or letter.
If you do find that someone has filed a fraudulent tax return using your name or social security number, be prepared for a long wait before the IRS resolves your case. The IRS generally takes an average of 312 days to resolve these cases. You may also consider contacting Chicago tax attorney Patrick T. Sheehan and Associates for help in navigating this often frustrating process. Call us, we can help.