At the start of every tax season, you may face the dread of completing confusing paperwork. Now on top of that is the fear of scammers stealing your tax return. By using an Identity Protection PIN (IP pin) from the IRS, you make your return safer. But you might not know if you’re eligible for one or how to get an IP PIN. This article will answer these questions as well as when IRS pins are sent out and when to expect to receive them.
IRS PINs are sent out from mid-December through mid-January. You should expect your IP pin within three weeks from when it was sent. If there is a problem, call them directly at 1 800 908-4490. You will have to verify your identity.
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What is an IRS PIN number?
An Identity Protection PIN (IP Pin) is a six-digit code used by the IRS to confirm your identity. They use them to make sure that when they receive a tax return, it is actually coming from you. Every year at the beginning of tax season, scammers file fraudulent tax returns. They do this by first stealing your Social Security Number (SSN). To learn some ways to avoid having your SSN fall into the wrong hands, read my article about Social Security contacting you by phone.
How many Digits is IRS pin?
IRS pins are six digits. Some people are under the mistaken belief these pins are 5 digits. If you have a five-digit code, it’s either not a valid pin provided by the IRS, or you are missing a number. Also, make sure the pin you have is all numbers and there are no letters. When looking around at your documents for your pin and come across any other combination, keep looking.
Why do I need a PIN from the IRS?
Not everyone needs an Identity Protection pin. But they are a good idea. If you are wondering if everyone gets one, the IRS does not automatically distribute them. While they are intended for confirmed victims of identity theft, starting 2021 anyone can request one.
Not sure if you already have an IRS pin assigned to you? Chances are you would know if you did. When in doubt, you can always call the IRS at 1 800-908-4490. If you have an IP Pin, you will need to use it if you want to e-file. If you lose or can’t remember the number, you will need to file a paper return.
As alluded to before, your Identity Protection PIN is like a secret password known only by you and the IRS. When you file your taxes, you use the pin. If someone else tried to submit a tax return pretending to be you, they would not be successful without the pin. This is important because every year the IRS identifies fraudulent tax returns.
If you try to submit your taxes after a scammer already has, your return will be flagged by the IRS. This will delay any refund you may receive and cause extra aggravation on your part. You will then have to provide further proof of your identity.
In 2016 alone thousands of IRS pins were fraudulently requested by scammers. This occurred on such a large scale that year the IRS briefly suspended the pin system. This feature has since been restored, but it just shows how popular these scams are. It also shows that even the United States government is not immune from scams.
IRS pin request
To request your own IP Pin through the IRS, go to their website at irs.gov. You cannot get a pin from TurboTax, Tax Act, H&R Block, or any other tax filing company. You will have to create an account with the IRS unless you already have one. If you have ever logged onto their website to request a transcript or had a payment agreement, there is already an account on file. If you’ve requested a Pin in previous years you would also have an account. Also, there is no need to create an account every year, use the same one used in years past.
Anyone filing taxes and can prove their identity is eligible for an IP pin. The IRS may automatically issue one to you. This is true if you’ve ever been a victim of ID theft and reported it to the police or IRS. Sometimes they even identify people as possible victims based on ongoing investigations. If your name comes up during an investigation as a possible victim, a Pin may be created as a preventative measure.
If you didn’t request them but receive IRS pins in the mail, it can be surprising. But remember, the pin is a good thing, and receiving one makes you safer. You won’t be able to request one for your friends or family to help them unless they are listed as a ‘dependent’ on your return. However, I suggest you provide them information so they can make their own request.
You do not need a credit card to request an IP pin. So, if you are ever asked for one, it is sure to be a scam. All you need is to verify your identity with your name, address, Social Security Number, and birthday.
When will IRS Pins be Mailed?
IRS pins are sent out every year between mid-December to early January. Once sent, they should be received within 21 days. The online tool used to request a pin is unavailable from mid-November to mid-January. So, try and request one as soon as possible. Based on how long it takes to get, how long it takes you to complete your taxes, and when taxes are due, it may be too late this season. If that’s the case, at least it can help you be safe for future tax seasons.
Why Haven’t I Received My IRS Pin?
Expect to receive your IP Pin in the mail on a form that says CP01A. If you’ve moved and haven’t notified the IRS, it’s only a problem if you’ve moved after January 1st. It depends on what information the IRS has on file when they begin disseminating pins.
How long should you wait until you realize it’s not coming? Since it takes at most three weeks to receive a pin once it’s generated, don’t wait until the last minute before taxes are due. Instead, at least 21 days before taxes are due, go on the IRS website. Then use the request tool to request a pin. If one has already been generated, they will allow you to recover it.
Renewing & Replacing IRS Pins
|Don’t have / Never had an IRS Pin||Use “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov|
|Don’t Know If I have an IRS Pin||Use “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov|
|Lost IRS Pin||Use “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov|
|Forgotten IRS Pin||Use “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov|
|Stolen / Compromised IRS Pin||Call IRS at 1 800 908-4490|
|Expired IRS Pin||Use Pin Issued Current Calendar Year|
|Can’t get Pin using Website||File Paper Return via Mail|
What do you do when you forget your IRS pin? You would follow the same process as if it was as lost. Log into IRS.gov go to the request tool under “Get an IP PIN”. You will have to reaffirm your identity, so they know it’s actually you.
What do you do when you lose your pin? Should you request a new one or attempt to recover the old pin? The answer is you will follow the same process as above. But instead of receiving a new pin number, you will recover the old one.
If you’ve ever lost or forgotten your pin, you may be wondering why is it difficult to retrieve your pin or get a new one. The reason behind this is for your safety. You would not want a scammer to be able to trick the IRS into giving them your pin. If you try to recover your pin and all else fails, file by mail using a paper return.
Do IRS Pins Expire?
IRS pins do not expire. Every calendar year you will receive a new one. You will not have to request a new one every year, it is an automatic process once you request it the first time. If you file taxes for a prior year, you will have to use the current pin issued this year. Do not try to use the pin from that past year, it will not work.
Finally, if you think your pin has been compromised by a scammer, you should contact the IRS immediately by phone. Once that is done, they will make the final decision on if you need to file by paper.
Are IRS pins Different Every Year?
Yes, IRS pins will change from year to year. Don’t bother trying a pin from a prior year. This can cause the IRS to reject your return. Otherwise, it could cause a delay in your return. Your Pin will last the entire calendar year until the IRS generates a new one.
Where is your Pin located? Your pin will be mailed to you on form CP01A. Once you have it, you put it on either your paper or e-filed return. You may only need to use it if you are e-filing or it will be rejected. If it’s wrong or missing on the paper form, the IRS will confirm your identity through other means which takes longer.
Issues with IRS pins
Considering how many scammers exist, it’s easy to wonder just how safe these IRS pins are. What I can say is this is the best system so far. As scammers evolve, so do the solutions to defeat them. Every year we become safer. With that in mind, there’s a saying that ‘locks are for the honest’. IP pins are not foolproof. If a scammer can steal your Social Security number, they can steal your pin. Don’t send your pin to anyone. Only use it on an official tax return.
If you are wondering what to do if someone gets your pin, the answer is simple. Call the IRS immediately at 1 800-908-4490. That way you can speak directly to a specialist who can help. They will verify your identity and make necessary decisions such as issuing a new pin or requiring a paper return.
Aside from scammers, another issue that seems to be common with the pins is remembering them. The good news is since they are different year to year, you only need to keep them handy got a short amount of time. Because of this, the best idea is to plan to file your taxes shortly after receiving your code.
- Use the “Get an IP PIN” tool at IRS.gov to request or recover a Pin
- Expect New Pin every year via Mail Mid-December to Mid-January
- Treat your IRS Pin like a Password and keep it Safe
- Immediately report any problems to IRS via Phone at 1 800-908-4490
Moving forward, be on alert for IRS tax scams. The IRS will not initiate contact with you via email, text, or social media. Also, keep in mind they will never ask for your pin anyway. The IRS has a record of all IRS pins including yours already. If they need to verify your identity, they will ask other questions.
You can continue learning how to be safe by reading my other article, Will Social Security contact you by phone?.