IRS ID Verify and Your Tax Refund

Tax Refunds Senior man using laptop to verify his identity.

You’re at home feeling accomplished about filing your taxes, and there’s now one less thing on that to-do list. Your mind wanders as you check the mail while thinking about the weekend ahead and how you might spend your tax return, but then… you see you’ve received a formal-looking letter, and it turns out to be an IRS 5071C Letter or 5747C Letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) alerting you of potential identity theft.

Your mind may be full of questions like “How did this happen?” and “What should I do now?” You have every right to wonder how this may impact you as ID theft is a serious problem — that’s why the IRS monitors tax returns for signs of fraudulent activity. One of the most frequent scams is when thieves use a person’s name and Social Security number to file a fraudulent return and steal a tax refund. When the IRS suspects a return is fraudulent, they will request identity verification from the person whose name and address is listed on the return — that’s when you receive the Form 5071C or 5747C in the mail.

Have no fear — you have questions, and we have everything you need to know for handling identity verification requests from the IRS.

What exactly is an IRS Letter 5071C or 5747C?

  • This letter alerts you that the IRS received a tax return with your name and Social Security number, but it believes it may not be yours. It asks you to take steps to verify your identity and confirm if the return is actually yours.

How do I comply with verification?

Only use this verification system if you received a 5071C/5747C Letter. Please note, however, that the letters are only sent to you through U.S. mail. YOU ARE NEVER ALERTED BY EMAIL OR PHONE. 

We also don’t suggest contacting the IRS over the phone. They receive many calls, so you’re better off using the secure online system. Remember that the phone number in your letter can be used only for verification purposes and not for other tax issues.

What do I need to verify my identity?

  • Your previous year’s tax return
  • Your current year’s tax return
  • All supporting forms and schedules
  • Your SSN and date of birth
  • An account number from a credit card, mortgage, student loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan
  • A mobile phone associated with your name
  • A copy of the 5071C or 5747C letter

What happens after I finish the verification process?

If the verification proves you are the person named on the tax return, it will be processed. It takes about 6 weeks to complete processing after successful verification.

The return will be rejected and investigated as identity theft/tax fraud if:

  • Verification fails to confirm your identity or that you filed the return
  • If the verification process is not completed, or can’t be completed

Be sure to respond to all requests from the IRS mailed to you to validate your identity in order to avoid rejection of what could be a valid tax return.

If you submitted a tax return, you deserve to benefit from it if done properly. After completing all necessary steps, we hope you have worry-free trips to the mailbox as you plan your next weekend and what to do with that refund!

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