Client Question: Securing your Tax Return

January 24, 2024

During a year-end planning meeting, my tax advisor brought up the idea of adding a PIN to my IRS record to protect myself against the increasing risk of tax return fraud. This PIN prevents unauthorized individuals from filing a tax return under your social security number (which would allow them to possibly access any amounts you have paid in during the year as a refund, as well as cause a very lengthy and annoying process to reach resolution).

After that meeting, I had to answer my own question (yes, I have them too!) and figure out how best to obtain a PIN. I thought I would share in the event this is something you are interested in doing for your tax return/IRS account as well.

Details on the PIN

The PIN is a six digit number that needs to be entered in order to file a tax return under your social security number. The PINs are only valid for one calendar year and if you happen to forget it, you can log back in to the online tool to retrieve it. A new PIN will be generated for you every year.

How to Obtain a PIN

There are a few different methods. The best method (and the one I used) is to apply online using the Get an IP PIN tool at the following IRS website link. There is a paper form options available for certain filers but the online tool was very easy to use and very secure. PINs can be obtained from mid-January to mid-November each year.

How to Use PIN

Naturally, this is a number that you want to keep very secure. Keep it in a safe location without any associated description if possible. Many tax advisors will include a space for the PIN on their tax organizers but I suggest calling them with the information to avoid any compromise of that important number. It’s also important to note that the IRS will never ask you for your PIN via phone/email/text. The PIN must be used to file but should not be otherwise communicated to an unknown party.

What About State Returns?

I suggest checking with your state’s department of revenue webpage to confirm the details for your state. Wisconsin does offer a PIN as well that you can also apply for online. Please note that my tax advisor did let me know that a state return can’t be filed without the associated Federal return, so if you obtain the IRS PIN, this is a great first step!

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