The IRS is expanding the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) pilot program, so taxpayers in seven additional states will be able to add an extra layer of security to their federal tax return. The agency says they will continue adding states incrementally to verify the program can handle each new wave of requests as they work toward the goal of making the IP PIN program available to every taxpayer.
The push for increased data security comes as no surprise: As part of the Security Summit, the IRS, state departments of treasury, and other members of the tax industry have been partnering since 2015 to create and implement programs that thwart the efforts of cybercriminals. While the IP PIN program predates the Security Summit—it was initially developed to prevent identity theft victims from having their personally identifiable information (PII) used to fraudulently file a federal tax return—the expansion of the pilot program aligns with the partnership’s goal of better protecting taxpayer data from cybercriminals.
Identity thieves have significantly increased the frequency and variety of scams targeting taxpayers, finding new ways to siphon enough PII to illegally get their hands on tax refund checks. That’s where the IP PIN comes in: Even if identity thieves have enough stolen PII to otherwise trick IRS filters, they won’t be able to successfully file a return without a protected taxpayer’s IP PIN—essentially functioning as two-factor authentication for tax returns.
How Do You Apply for an IP PIN?
According to the “Get an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)” page on IRS.gov, the first step in getting an IP PIN is making sure you’re eligible in the first place. Prior to the IRS’ expansion of the pilot program, that meant receiving a CP01A Notice or living in Florida, Georgia, or D.C. Now, taxpayers in California, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Rhode Island are eligible to request an IP PIN to help protect against tax-related identity theft.
Once you’re eligible, just complete the IRS Secure Access verification process, and then use the “Get an IP PIN” tool. Predictably, online verification will require you have an IRS.gov taxpayer account, and you’ll need to provide the IRS with PII:
- "A readily available email address;
- Your Social Security number;
- Your filing status and address from your last-filed tax return;
- Your personal account number from a:
- credit card, or
- student loan, or
- home mortgage loan, or
- home equity (second mortgage) loan, or
- home equity line of credit (HELOC), or
- car loan
(The IRS does not retain this data)
- A readily available mobile device. For instant access, your name must be associated with a U.S-based mobile phone capable of receiving text messages. If the mobile phone number cannot be linked to your name, you may opt for a mailed activation code during registration."
The IRS notes that anyone who has used other online IRS tools like “Get Transcript Online” should already have an active IRS.gov account. That said, the process is fairly involved, so it’s a good idea to read through all of the IRS’s tips on the Secure Access page.