An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit code you use to confirm your identity when submitting your tax return. This additional layer of authentication makes it harder for someone else to use your Social Security Number (SSN) to submit a fraudulent return.

The IRS gives IP PINs to taxpayers who have experienced tax-related identity theft. If you are eligible for an IP PIN, you will receive a notice by mail in December of January with your new IP PIN number.

How to Get an IP PIN

The use of an IP PIN is mandatory if you receive a CP01A notice by mail. You may receive this notice if you were a victim of tax-related identity theft or if the IRS identifies you as a possible victim of tax-related identity theft.

Getting an IP PIN is optional for the following groups of taxpayers:

  1. Those who receive an IRS letter inviting you to opt-in to get an IP PIN.
  2. Taxpayers who filed a return last year as a resident of Florida, Georgia, or the District of Columbia. This a pilot program to test the use of IP PINs.

When to Use the IP PIN

You will receive a CP01A notice each year by mail with a new IP PIN. You don’t need to file an identity theft affidavit with the IRS unless you experience a new instance of tax-related identity theft after receiving your IP PIN.

Use the IP PIN when submitting the following tax returns:

  1. Individual Income Tax Return: Form 1040
  2. Short Version of Individual Income Tax Return: Form 1040A
  3. Income Tax Return for Single and Joint Filers With No Dependents: Form 1040EZ
  4. IRS Form 1040 PR/SS

Use the IP PIN for any of these returns you file in the current year, including delinquent tax returns from prior tax years.

You do not need to use the IP PIN for other types of tax forms, including amended returns on Form1040X, an application for a filing extension, or an installment agreement request. You also should not use your IRS IP PIN when filing a state tax return.

Using IP PINs for E-Filed Tax Returns

If you are e-filing, you will enter the IP PIN at the end of your return to confirm your identity. When your spouse also has an IP PIN, they can also enter it on a joint return.

If your dependents have an IP PIN, you can enter those when e-filing as well. Be sure to match each IP PIN to the corresponding SSN if you have multiple IP PINs on one tax return.

The IRS will reject your return if you don’t enter the correct IP PIN. You will need to retrieve the correct IP PIN or submit a paper return by mail.

Using IP PINs for Paper Returns

You also need to use your IP PIN when submitting a paper return by mail. However, only the primary taxpayer needs to use an IP PIN for a paper return.

If you don’t use the correct IP PIN for a paper return, the IRS will take additional steps to validate your return. This may delay the processing of your return, and it may take longer for you to receive a tax refund.

How to Retrieve a Lost IP PIN or Get a New IP PIN

You will be issued a new IP PIN each year. CP01A notices are typically sent by mail in December or January before tax season begins.

If you don’t receive a new IP PIN or you lost your IP PIN, you can attempt to retrieve your IP Pin online. This service will only work for taxpayers that have been issued an IP PIN before.

You will need to verify your identity to use the online tool, so be prepared by having the following information:

  1. Social Security Number
  2. Filing status and address from your most recently filed tax return
  3. Your mobile device
  4. Email address
  5. Account number from a credit card or loan account

If you are unable to retrieve your IP PIN online, you can call the IRS at 800-908-4490. If that doesn’t work, your final option is to submit a paper return by mail without your IP PIN. The IRS will review the return to confirm your identity, which could delay your tax refund.

Safeguarding Your IP PIN

Your IP PIN is designed to prevent tax-related identity theft. You should keep your IP PIN in a safe location until it’s time to file your tax return.

Do not share your IP PIN with anyone except for a tax preparer who is completing your return. If you use a tax preparer, you will have to give them your IP PIN when it’s time to submit your return.

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