When it comes to reporting tax identity theft to the authorities, the federal government has entered the 21st century at long last.
Victims of this type of fraud can now submit an identity theft affidavit to the Internal Revenue Service online.
This is a big deal because that affidavit, also known as IRS Form 14039, is key to reporting and thus recovering from tax-related identity theft.
Tax identity theft involves someone using your Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return and steal your refund — an ever-present risk in an era of rampant security breaches. This year alone, the IRS has seen multiple scams target refunds, including via phishing and hacking into tax professionals’ computers.
Until now, though, you could only file Form 14039 manually.
The IRS and Federal Trade Commission have partnered to make it possible for folks to submit Form 14039 to the IRS online, via the FTC’s IdentityTheft.gov website.
As the FTC put it in an announcement this week, “IdentityTheft.gov will be the first and the only place where consumers can submit an IRS Form 14039 electronically.”
Here’s how the FTC describes the electronic reporting process:
- “IdentityTheft.gov will first ask you questions to collect the information the IRS needs, then use your information to populate the Form 14039 and let you review it.
- Once you’re satisfied, you can submit the Form 14039 to the IRS through IdentityTheft.gov and download a copy for yourself.
- About 30 days later, the IRS will send you a letter confirming it received the information.”
We can only imagine how long it would take the IRS to get in touch with you if you submit Form 14039 manually!
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