taxes-blog-irs-seeking-taxpayer-id-verification

Some people are getting an Internal Revenue Service notice asking them to confirm they are who they say they are on their tax returns.

Don’t freak out. Letter 5071C is not a scam.

It’s the latest effort by the tax agency when it encounters tax returns that have indications of being identity theft, but which contain a real taxpayer’s name and/or Social Security number.

In these cases, the IRS instructs the letter recipients to go to its Identity Verification Service website, idverify.irs.gov, to let the agency know that the tax return in question is valid or fraudulent.

Look for .gov

Note the .gov extension. Always look for that at the end of a tax-related URL. Web addresses ending with .com, .org, or .net are not official governmental URLs and could be the creations of con artists.

But again, Letter 5071C is the real deal.

And it’s going out to taxpayers whose identities may have been stolen via the U.S. Postal Service to the address on the suspicious return.

The IRS does not request taxpayer information via email. Neither do IRS representatives call taxpayers directly to ask this information unless they have first received a written, mailed notice.

Online ID confirmation

If you get the letter, the fastest way to resolve questions about the return is go to idverify.irs.gov. There you’ll be asked a series of questions that only you, the real taxpayer, can answer.

Once you do that, you can confirm whether you filed the return in question. If you did, then your 1040 will go back into the system for processing, which the IRS says should take about six weeks.

If, however, you tell the IRS via the ID verification website that you did not file the suspicious return, the agency will halt the filing and help you initiate steps to file your correct tax return.

Phone verification OK, too

Folks who are uncomfortable with the online identification verification process can call the toll-free number that’s listed in the letter. Note, however, that high call volumes mean you’ll probably be on hold for a while.

Before calling the IRS or clicking over to the online ID verification site, gather your prior year tax return and, if you’ve filed it, your current tax return, along with supporting documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099 and Schedules A and C.

The information on these, as well as personal data such as your name, date of birth, and Social Security or taxpayer identification number will make the process go more smoothly.

More tax info from Bankrate

Want the latest news on taxes, money-saving tax tips, tax scams and myriad other tax matters? Subscribe to Bankrate’s free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

You also can follow me on Twitter: @taxtweet.

Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”