The IRS now will now allow consumers to electronically report identity theft through the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov website.
Under the new FTC-IRS initiative, IdentityTheft.gov is the first and the only place where consumers can submit an IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, electronically. This new e-effort should make it easier for consumers to report tax-related identity theft and to receive help in recovering.
Previously, to report a stolen identity that could be used to file a fake tax return and claim a fraudulent refund, a victim had to file a paper Form 14039. The IRS does offer a fillable version on the IRS website, that taxpayers can complete online, print and then mail to the tax agency.
Unfortunately, however, while potential tax identity theft victims are filing paper forms by mail, the crooks are already/still online doing their damage electronically. Now, however, the IRS-FTC partnership means that identity theft victims can fight back on the same e-field to report identity theft.
e-Reporting advantages: Once the Form 14039 is submitted electronically on the FTC site, that federal agency then will electronically transfer the identity theft form, but not the taxpayer’s return which is affected, to the IRS.
Here’s how it works:
IdentityTheft.gov will ask questions to collect the information the IRS needs. It will then use your information to populate Form 14039 and let you review it. Once you are satisfied with the information on the form, it can then be immediately electronically, as well as a copy downloaded for the taxpayer. About 30 days later, the IRS will send you a letter confirming it received the information.
This direct, secure transference of your identity theft affidavit to the IRS is one of the benefits of this e-reporting option, says the FTC in its announcement of the new system.
Other pluses, according to the IRS and FTC, include:
- Having specific directions that will walk the victimized taxpayers through the completion of Form 14039.
- Getting additional guidance on how to place fraud alerts on your credit files, check your credit reports and take other steps to stop the tax identity theft from harming your accounts.
- Receiving help in resolving any other problems the tax identity theft may have caused.
Identity theft follow-up steps: Anyone who has been an identity theft victim, can attest that straightening things out can be a real hassle. The FTC says its new website should help here.
After e-filing a report of identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov, individuals whose tax and personal lives in general have been wrecked by this pervasive crime will be able to get an Identity Theft Report. This can be used in place of a police report to help clear credit reports of fraudulent information.
In addition, IdentityTheft.gov will send victims customized letters they can send to creditors, debt collectors and others to help prove that the ensuing financial problems were due to identity theft, not the victim’s actions.
Taxes continue regardless: Remember, even though a victim of identity theft, everyone must still must meet their tax obligations. Filing an identity theft affidavit, either electronically now or the old-fashioned paper way, does not eliminate the need to file and pay taxes.
If a taxpayer cannot e-file their tax return because an ID thief has already submitted a fake 1040 in their name, they will need to complete and mail an accurate tax return to the IRS along with any taxes owed.
While the new electronic reporting should help, also check out the IRS Fact Sheet 2018-6, on exactly when to file a Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit