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Be Prepared to Validate Identity When Calling the IRS

IRS has issued some tips regarding taxpayer phone calls to IRS, including what information callers need to be able to provide to IRS call center assistors to validate their identity.  Noting that mid-February marks the agency’s busiest time of the year for telephone calls, IRS has passed along the following tips regarding phone calls:

Validating your identity. Callers should have the following data at the ready when they call IRS, in order that IRS can verify their identity:

If calling about a personal tax account.

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those listed on the tax return
    An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for those without a Social Security number (SSN)
    Filing status – Single, Head of Household, Married Filing Joint or Married Filing Separate
    Prior-year tax return. IRS may need to verify identity before answering certain questions
    A copy of the tax return in question

If calling about a Letter 4883C. At this time of year, IRS begins sending letters to taxpayers inquiring about suspicious tax returns it has identified. It’s important for IRS and the taxpayer to confirm whether or not the taxpayer actually filed the return in question. Taxpayers have 30 days to call. To expedite the process when calling, taxpayers must have:

  • The IRS letter
    Copy of prior year tax return (if filed)
    Current year tax return (if filed)
    Any supporting documents for each year’s return (such as W-2’s, 1099’s, Schedule C, Schedule F, etc.)

If calling about someone else’s account. IRS call center assistors will only speak with the taxpayer or his legally designated representative. Before calling, have the following information handy:

  • Verbal or written authorization to discuss the account
    The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, form(s)
    If the caller is a third party designee, a PTIN or PIN
    A current, completed, and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or
    A completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

If calling about a deceased taxpayer. Be prepared to fax:

  • The deceased taxpayer’s death certificate, and
    Either copies of the Letter of Testamentary approved by the court or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship (for estate executors)
    Refunds. Customer service representatives can answer refund questions beginning 21 days after the return was filed.

Taxpayers should use “Where’s My Refund?” to track the status of their refund.

“Where’s My Refund?” will be updated Feb. 18 for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC). Before Feb. 18, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that IRS is processing their return.

By law, IRS is required to hold EITC and ACTC refunds until Feb. 15. However, taxpayers may not see those refunds until the week of Feb. 27. Due to differing timeframes with financial institutions, weekends and the Presidents Day holiday, these refunds likely will not start arriving in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of Feb. 27 — if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose direct deposit.

IRS phone assistors do not have additional information on refund dates beyond what taxpayers have access to on “Where’s My Refund?”. Given high call volumes, taxpayers should not call unless directed to do so by the refund tool.

Electronically filed returns. Taxpayers who are e-filing their return and need their prior year adjusted gross income should use the Get Transcript tool on IRS telephone assistors cannot provide prior-year adjusted gross income over the phone for filing purposes.

Extended telephone hours on Feb. 18 and Feb. 20. IRS toll-free lines will be open Saturday, Feb. 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (callers’ local time) and Monday, Feb. 20, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (callers’ local time).

References: For identity theft, see FTC 2d/FIN ¶ T-10164.4.

-Courtesy of ThomsonReuters