Verifying Your Identity with the IRS

Verifying Your Identity with the IRS

In recent years, the internal revenue service began increasing identity theft identification efforts following an increase of fraudulently-filed tax returns. As part of these efforts to decrease fraud, the IRS is now sending select taxpayers a letter asking for identity verification.

The IRS may choose to validate a taxpayer’s identity if:

  • The return arrived much earlier than the taxpayers returns from previous years.
  • There has been a change of mailing address on the income tax return.
  • There has been a change in the number of dependents claimed.
  • The amount of the tax refund or amount due has changed significantly.
  • Failure to have a refund direct deposited into a bank account.
  • The return arrived using a different method compared to what had been used in the past.
  • The return contains income numbers that vary significantly from prior income.
  • Deductions or credits vary significantly from what was claimed in the past.


If for any reason you have received such a letter, it is important that you respond to it right away. Doing so will help to avoid further delays in processing your return.

You should also keep in mind that the IRS will NEVER call you or e-mail you to verify your identity. All such requests are done in writing. There are no exceptions. If you receive a call from someone asking you to verify your identity and claiming to be with the IRS, it is a scam.


The IRS letter that you receive will explain how you are expected to verify your identity. Typically, the questions asked will pertain to the taxpayer and their past tax returns.

Responses can be made by calling the IRS phone number found in the body of the letter. There is an alternative to go online to and answer the questions there.  Some individuals have expressed difficulty in fully navigating the online method, so you may want to try a phone call.  (Due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the IRS, fewer IRS employees are available to receive calls, so you may be on hold for a while.)

Despite the letter arriving through the mail, you are not advised to respond via mail. The reason for this is, there have been cases of letters that ask for personal taxpayer information which were not sent by the IRS. Instead, it is possible to verify your identity online. To avoid taxpayer scams, always call the toll-free number listed for the IRS prior to providing any personal information or mailing correspondence. Also, NEVER provide information over the phone to someone who has called you claiming to be an IRS representative.


The information that the IRS has about you is based on the tax returns that you have filed in the past. That means that you should have your previous year’s tax return on hand to use for verification purposes. This would include:

  • Form 1040,1040-PR, 1040-NR, 1040-SR, etc.
  • Supporting documents, like your W-2s and 1099s.


When a fraudulent tax return is suspected, they may also ask other personal questions to verify your identity, such as:

  • Your personal account numbers from:
    • Credit cards
    • Mortgages
    • Student loans
    • Home equity loans or home equity line of credit
    • Car loans
  • Mother’s maiden name
  • Old addresses


If you have experienced identity theft problems in the past, you may also need to have your Identity Protection PIN handy. This PIN is assigned by the IRS and used along with your Social Security number to file your taxes each tax year. It adds an extra layer of protection for those who have already had their Social Security number compromised.

Even for individuals equipped with this information, the online identity verification process can be confusing. If you are having difficulty in responding to these letters or need assistance with this year’s tax return, please contact us at the Haynie & Company CPA firm for professional guidance.