The IRS and certain states are putting safeguards in place to combat tax-related identity theft and refund fraud for the 2016 tax filing season, which opened yesterday. These safeguards may mean supplying more information in order to verify your identity and delays in processing refunds, but are necessary in order to curb fraudulent refunds, which totaled $5.8 Billion from 2011 through October 2014. If you intend to e-file your federal or state income tax return, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Your W-2 May Include an Extra ID Number
The IRS has partnered with certain large payroll service providers, such as ADP and Paychex, to include a 16-digit verification code on some Form W-2s. The code will appear in a separate, labeled box. If the field is populated, the IRS is asking preparers to enter the code. The code is not needed for paper filed returns.
For this filing season, the code is being used only to test the capability of verifying the authenticity of W-2 data. The IRS has stated that omitted and incorrect W-2 verification codes will not delay the processing of the return, as they are just being used to see whether the codes are useful in evaluating the integrity of W-2 information.
You May Need Your Driver's License Number to File in Some States
You do not currently need a driver's license number to file your federal return but certain states request driver's license numbers or state ID numbers on electronically filed state income tax returns.
In most states, providing a driver's license number is voluntary. Returns can be e-filed for taxpayers without either a driver's license number or a non-driver ID (such as a child or invalid) without being rejected for e-filing, but all e-filed individual returns that lack a number may be manually reviewed to determine if more information is needed to verify the taxpayer's identity before a refund is issued (i.e. it will take longer to receive your refund if you don't provide a driver's license or ID number).
However, some tax preparers are reporting that tax software companies are requiring driver's license numbers in order to e-file in certain states. There may be some kinks until the IRS, states, and tax software providers get these new requirements worked out.
If You Were a Victim of Identity Theft Last Year, You May Receive a PIN From the IRS
The IRS mails an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) to taxpayers who were victims of tax-related identity theft. The IP PIN is a six digit number that must be input in order to e-file returns with an identity theft indicator on the account. Unfortunately, taxpayers received IP PIN letters with an incorrect year listed. If you received an IP PIN on a CP01A notice dated January 4, 2016, the IP PIN is valid for use on individual tax returns filed in 2016.
Many taxpayers ask about proactively requesting an IP PIN from the IRS to avoid issues with refund fraud. Currently, the IP PIN program is only available to taxpayers who were victims of tax-related identity theft, taxpayers who filed federal returns last year as residents of Florida, Georgia, or the District of Columbia, or taxpayers who received an IRS letter inviting them to "opt-in" to get an IP PIN.