What Is Form 5071C?

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Form 5071C is a letter sent by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to verify your identity. It sends out the letter when a tax return is filed with your name and taxpayer identification number, but it believes the return may not be yours.

Definition and Examples of Form 5071C

Form 5071C is a letter from the IRS asking you to take steps to confirm your identity. You'll typically receive this letter if the IRS has received a federal income tax return with your name or Social Security number associated with it, but it's picked up on one or more indications that it's a fraudulent return.

The letter will explain the steps you need to take to confirm your identity. It will also tell you which tax return is in question, including the form and the year. For example, it might reference your Form 1040 for the 2019 tax year.

The IRS will not call or email you to verify your identity. If you are unsure whether a communication is legitimate, visit the IRS website, or contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration IRS at 800-366-4484. You should also forward any phishing emails that claim to be from the IRS to phishing@irs.gov.

How to Respond to a 5071C Letter

If you receive a 5071C letter, you'll need to verify your identity to let the IRS know whether the return was legitimate or not. Review your letter carefully, and decide how you want to verify your identity. The IRS provides three options:

  • Online: Visit the IRS Identity Verification Service website. It will ask you to enter information and electronically verify your return. 
  • By phone: If you prefer to resolve the issue over the phone, call the number listed on your 5071C letter.
  • In person: If the IRS can't verify your identity by phone or online, you may be asked to make an appointment with your local IRS office. You should attempt to verify online or by phone first. 

The website and phone number are strictly for tax return identification purposes. Neither option can answer questions about your tax refund status or other issues. 

What You'll Need to Confirm Your Identity

You'll need several items on hand when you contact the IRS, including:

  • Your 5071C letter
  • The tax return referenced in the letter
  • A previous year's tax return
  • The supporting documents associated with both tax returns (e.g., W-2s, 1099s)

If you're verifying online, you'll also need:

  • Photo identification
  • The mailing address from your previous year's tax return

Your tax return will be processed after it's verified as legitimate. There's no need to resubmit your return. It can take as long as nine weeks to process your return after your identity has been confirmed. 

What to Do if the Return Wasn't Yours

If the IRS has contacted you about a fraudulent return, take other measures to protect your identity.

Contact one of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion), and place a fraud alert on your account. When you contact one bureau, it's necessary to contact the other two bureaus about the fraud.

You can also order free copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Review your credit reports for any accounts opened without your permission. Close those accounts immediately. You may also want to freeze your credit accounts, which will prevent anyone from using your identity to open new credit accounts in your name

Review your financial accounts to look for unauthorized transactions so you can dispute them with your bank as quickly as possible. Change the passwords on your financial accounts, such as bank or brokerage accounts, to protect your information.

If you contact the Federal Trade Commission, a representative there will help you develop a personal recovery plan.

Key Takeaways

  • Form 5071C is a letter sent by the IRS to verify your identity if a tax return filed under your name might be fraudulent.
  • The letter will explain the steps you need to take to confirm your identity and which tax return is in question, including the form and the year. 
  • You can verify your identity online or by phone. If your identity can't be confirmed by those methods, you'll be asked to verify your identity in person at a local office. 
  • If the return you're being contacted about isn't yours, take further steps to protect your identity, such as contacting credit bureaus and the FTC. 

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