Should You Get an IRS Identity Protection PIN?

Article Highlights:

  • What is an IP PIN?
  • Social Security Number
  • IP PIN Program Expansion
  • How the IP PIN is Used
  • Annual Number
  • Applying for an IP PIN
  • Current Availability

An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers by the IRS to help prevent the misuse of their Social Security number by ID thieves to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. The IP PIN aids IRS in verifying a taxpayer’s identity and accepting only valid returns via electronic filing or paper filed returns.

For many years, IP PINs were only available to taxpayers with certain specific circumstances, who were residents of certain states, had their identity stolen and who had someone file a tax return using their Social Security number.

In January 2021, the IRS expanded the IP PIN program to all taxpayers who wished to participate in this ID protection program and who can verify their identity. This is especially important for taxpayers who believe their ID has been compromised but is available to all taxpayers as protection if their IDs were to be compromised or believed to have been compromised. Even if a thief already filed a fraudulent return, an IP PIN would still offer protections for later years and prevent taxpayers from being repeat victims of tax-related identity theft.

For security reasons only the taxpayer can apply for an IP PIN; a tax professional can’t provide this service for their client. An IP PIN can be obtained online by using the IRS’ Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN). If you want to request an IP PIN, please be aware that to do so you will need to pass a rigorous identity verification process. If you can’t successfully validate your identity through the Get an IP PIN tool, there are a couple of alternatives. If your adjusted gross income is less than $72,000, you can complete and submit to IRS Form 15227, Application for an Identify Protection Personal Identification Number, to request an IP PIN. Another option if you don’t qualify to apply using Form 15227, is to request an in-person appointment at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. You can find details on these alternative ways of requesting an IP PIN by using the link above. Both the application and appointment methods take longer for the IRS to assign an IP PIN to you than if you apply online.

There are some additional things you should know about an IP PIN:

  • This six-digit number is known only to the taxpayer and the IRS.
  • Participating in the program is voluntary.
  • The IP PIN is used in addition to the Social Security number.
  • There is a special place to enter the IP PIN on page 2 of the 1040 near the signature block.
  • The IP PIN is valid for one calendar year.
  • For security reasons, enrolled participants get a new IP PIN each year.
  • Spouses and dependents are eligible for an IP PIN if they can verify their identities.
  • IP PIN users should never share their number with anyone but the IRS and their trusted tax preparation provider.
  • The IRS will never call, email or text a request for the IP PIN. Only scammers will do that.

Currently, taxpayers can get an IP PIN for 2021, which should be used when filing any federal tax returns during the rest of the year, including prior year returns. New IP PINs will be available starting in January 2022.