If you’re like many Americans, you may not start thinking about filing your tax return until the April 15 deadline (this year, April 18) is just a few weeks — or perhaps even just a few days — away. But there’s another date you should keep in mind: January 19. That’s the date the IRS began accepting 2015 returns, and filing as close to that date as possible could protect you from tax identity theft.
How Filing Early Helps
In this increasingly common scam, thieves use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns electronically and claim bogus refunds. When the real taxpayers file, they’re notified that they’re attempting to file duplicate returns.
Tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the thief who’s filing the duplicate return, not you.
IRS Changes Policy on Requesting Fraudulently Filed Returns
Until recently, the IRS has cited privacy concerns with regards to its policy preventing victims of identity theft from obtaining copies of the tax return fraudulently filed under the victim’s SSN. The IRS has now changed this policy and a victim of identity theft may request a redacted copy (with some information blacked-out) of a fraudulent return that was filed and accepted by the IRS using the identity theft victim’s name and SSN. The benefit to requesting the copy of the fraudulently filed return is that it may aid identity theft victims in determining how much of their personal information was compromised.
Another Key Date
Of course you need to have your W-2s and 1099s to file. So another key date to be aware of is February 1 — the deadline for employers to issue 2015 W-2s to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue 1099s to recipients of any 2015 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.
Let us know if you have questions about tax identity theft or would like help filing your 2015 return early. An added bonus of filing early, if you’ll be getting a refund, is enjoying that refund sooner.