James O’Rilley, CPA, MST , Tax Shareholder, Doeren Mayhew

Q. What do I do if I become a victim of tax identity theft?

Call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Protection Specialized Unit immediately and report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission to begin the process of documenting the fraud. Have personal documents on hand in the event the IRS requests additional information to verify your identity, such as old tax returns, driver’s license, birth certificate or passport.

You should also contact the three major credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian to set up fraud alerts. These alerts warn potential lenders you are a victim of identity theft and ensure your identity must be verified before new credit in your name can be issued. The alerts last 90 days and can be renewed.

QIf my identity has been stolen, how can I claim my refund owed to me?

Once you have reported your incident to the IRS Protection Specialized Unit and Federal Trade Commission, you will need to file an identity theft affidavit (Form 14039). As a result, a personal identification number (PIN) will be issued to you. When filing future tax returns, you will need this PIN (you will be given a new one each year) along with your Social Security number. You may be asked to file your real tax return on paper for the fraudulent year and mail it in.

A typical case of identity theft can take 180 days to resolve and get your refund back. So it’s important to be patient and take the necessary steps of precaution to avoid the fraud from occurring again.

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James O’Rilley, CPA, MST is a Tax Shareholder and Practice Leader of Doeren Mayhew’s Troy, Mich. tax department and can be reached at 248.244.3171. For more information on how to avoid or overcome tax identity theft, contact our tax advisors today.