Realizing you’re a victim of identity theft can be an extremely stressful experience. Not knowing what information has been compromised and what your information will be used for can cause serious financial panic. If you’re thinking to yourself “where’s my tax refund?” or wondering how to tell if you’ve been a victim of tax-related identity theft; read on for more on recognizing the signs of identity theft and what to do if your information has been compromised.

How To Recognize Tax-Related Identity Theft

Being mindful and alert with your finances is important to protect yourself from identity theft, and to address tax identity theft quickly if it does happen to you. The IRS reports that they received 242,000 reports of tax-related identity theft in 2017, which went down from 641,00 just six years earlier.

Despite this decline in tax-related identity theft reports in recent years, the IRS still considers identity theft a major tax scam for consumers to be aware of.

How do you know if your identity has been stolen? There are a few warning signs to look out for so that you can act on a stolen identity tax scam immediately.

Here are some warning signs that may indicate a stolen identity:

  • A notice from the IRS claiming that you have filed more than one tax return using your SSN.
  • A notice from the IRS saying you owe additional taxes or a tax refund offset ordered for a year that you did not file a tax return.
  • IRS says you have received wages from an employer you do not recognize.  

If you have experienced any of these warning signs, the IRS notes that taxpayers should continue to pay their taxes and file their tax return. Once you have taken care of your taxes, make sure you take immediate action to resolve identity theft.

What To Do If You’re a Victim of Tax-Related Identity Theft

  1. File a complaint with the FTC at identitytheft.gov. Once you file your identity theft report, the FTC will give you a suggested recovery plan to help guide you through the identity theft recovery process.
  2. Contact one of the following major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your account
  1. Get in touch with your creditors and banks to inform them of your stolen information, and close any new credit accounts that you have not authorized.

If you have received a notice of possible identity theft from the IRS, take these additional steps:

  1. Call the IRS number provided in your notice immediately
  2. Complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit  

Form 14039 Instructions

What is Form 14039

Form 14039 is how a taxpayer can inform the IRS of a fraudulent tax return filed with their SSN. Form 14039, or the Identity Theft Affidavit let the IRS know of this issue, and prompts an investigation to resolve the tax issue.

Neglecting to address a case of tax-related identity theft can result in a lost tax return, additional taxes owed by the taxpayer, or even new lines of credit opened under the victim’s SSN. If you suspect you’re a victim of tax-related identity theft, you will need to follow the IRS identity theft process to avoid penalty and fix the issue.  

When to File Form 14039

Taxpayers who suspect they may be a victim of tax-related identity theft may wonder when to file Form 14039. One of the few occasions a taxpayer would need to fill out Form 14039 is if the taxpayer attempts to file their tax return online, and the IRS rejects the return because a return has already been filed under their SSN. File Form 14039 with the IRS if you receive this message, or a notice from the IRS that instructs you to do so.

The IRS notes that with processing filters, they are able to identify most suspicious tax returns, and they will notify the taxpayer if they encounter an issue with their return. If the IRS does find suspicious activity associated with your SSN, they will give you instructions with Letter 5071C.

If you are unsure if your tax information has been compromised, consult a professional tax services company like Community Tax to help you identify any issues with your tax return, and help you resolve them.

How to Fill Out Form 14039

Once you have confirmed with the IRS that your identity has been stolen – based on a rejected duplicate tax return, or notice from the IRS, you’ll want to get started on your Form 14039.

Download Form 14039 from the IRS website and use a secure PDF filler to complete the form.

Form 14039: Section A

Check the box that best describes who you are filing the form for.

Form 14039: Section B

Check one of the following boxes:

  1. Someone used my information to file taxes
  2. I don’t know if someone used my information to file taxes, but I’m a victim of identity theft

Provide an explanation of how you became aware of the situation with relevant dates and documentation attached, if applicable. For example, if you tried to file an electronic tax return but it was rejected by the IRS, try to include the date and a written confirmation that your return was rejected.

Form 14039: Section C

Fill in your contact and tax information. Wondering how to check if your tax return was filed? To get your tax record (transcript) directly from the IRS for the most accurate data on your last tax returns and filing information. You can access your record online or get your transcript by mail.

Form 14039: Section D

Sign and date the form, indicating that you have provided accurate information.

Form 14039: Section E

Section E will only need to be filled out if you are filing Form 14039 for someone else in the event of their death, if they are a dependent, or if you are the appointed conservator for the affected taxpayer.

Where To Send Form 14039

You can either mail or fax your form once completed. The IRS suggests only choosing one method to submit your form in order to avoid IRS delays.

Mailing Form 14039

  • If you received a notice from the IRS (Box 1, Section B), send your form and a copy of the notice received to the IRS address on the notice.
  • If you were not able to file your tax return electronically because a false return was already filed under your SSN (Box 1, Section B),  attach the form to the back of your paper tax return and submit to the IRS location where you normally file your tax return.
  • If you have already filed your paper tax return, send this form to the IRS location where you file your tax return.
  • If you checked Box 2, Section B and have no known tax-related issues at this time, mail your form to:

Department of the Treasury

Internal Revenue Service

Fresno, CA 93888-0025

Faxing Form 14039

  • If you are responding to a notice from the IRS (Box 1, Section B), you should send this form to the fax number provided on the letter. If there is not a fax number, follow the mailing instructions provided on the letter.
  • If you checked Box 2, Section B and have no known tax-related issues at this time, FAX your form toll-free to: 855-807-5720

Protecting Yourself From Tax-Related Identity Theft

Protect yourself from tax-related identity theft by taking measures to make sure your personal and financial information is protected.

The IRS recommends doing the following to protect yourself from tax-related identity theft and other tax scams:

  • Protect your personal and financial information by updating your passwords and guarding your SSN and other account information.
  • Avoid phishing scams like emails, texts, and calls demanding your personal information. The IRS will not ask for your account information over the phone, or show aggressive behaviors like scammers might.
  • Use a secure internet connection and anti-virus protection software to guard your information online.

Signing up for an IP PIN with the IRS can also help prevent misuse of your SSN when you file your taxes. The IRS will require you to pass their identity verification secure access process to qualify for an IP PIN.