IRS fraud security pilot program fighting tax thieves

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

Taxpayers who filed their federal tax return as a Florida resident last year are eligible to participate in the IRS’ identity protection pilot program.

The IRS uses a six-digit personal identification number as an extra layer of security to confirm if people filing their taxes are who they say they are.

The name and Social Security number submitted on the tax return along with the PIN confirms the tax return is from the taxpayer and not a thief.

The IRS website stresses that people must use the PIN on “all future income tax forms

1040, 1040A, 1040EZ AND 1040 PR/SS.”

The system "helps prevent identity thieves from obtaining a fraudulent refund using your SSN and avoids delays issuing any refund you may be due," according to the IRS website.

H&R Block tax specialist Valerie Finello told News 6 that taxpayers won't know their Social Security number has been compromised until they go to file their taxes.

“We actually find that when it happens,” Finello said. “We send it to the IRS and it gets rejected ... because someone else filed on their behalf.”

The thieves assume taxpayer identities and intercept the tax refund before the victims ever file their taxes.

Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia have “the highest per-capita percentage of tax related identity theft," according to the IRS.

All three locations are included in the IRS pilot program and residents don’t need to be identity theft victims to participate.

According to the IRS, the ongoing pilot program, introduced in 2015, helps the IRS “evaluate the demand for the PIN system" and assess the agency’s ability to “issue the PIN to a larger number of taxpayers.”

The IRS will mail taxpayers a new identity protection PIN each year in December or early January.

This year, taxpayers get a two-day extension because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Monday, April 16 is the Washington, D.C. Emancipation Day holiday, making the deadline to file taxes April 17.

For more information on forms or how much you owe, visit www.irs.gov.

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