Written by Kyle Flischel on January 21, 2021 in Security Taxes

Is your tax return secure? An IP PIN may help

Starting in 2011, the IRS began offering taxpayers a way to protect their tax return from fraudulent electronic filing by issuing taxpayers an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN). The IP PIN is a six-digit number required to be included on a tax return that helps the IRS verify the identity of the filer, their spouse, and any dependents. At first, the program was only available to individuals who reported themselves as a victim of identify theft to the IRS by filing Form 14039. Slowly the IRS expanded the program to allow taxpayers to voluntarily opt in. In 2020, if you filed a tax return in one of twenty States, you could opt into the program. Starting in January 2021, the IRS is expanding the program to all taxpayers.

How do I obtain an IP PIN?

The easiest way to obtain an IP PIN is by applying on the IRS website’s “Get An IP PIN Tool”. If a taxpayer is unable to obtain the IP PIN online and makes less than $72,000, Form 15227 can be filed requesting the IP PIN. Taxpayers can also request an in person appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center to verify their identity and request the IP PIN.

How does it work?

Each January the IRS will mail all taxpayers who are required to receive and IP PIN a CP01A Notice. This notice will include a unique six-digit identifier that the taxpayer must include on any tax returns filed during that calendar year. IP PINs expire at the end of each year and can be discarded, and a new IP PIN is assigned every January. If a taxpayer has received an IP PIN each of the past three years, but has failed to file tax returns, only the most current IP PIN should be entered on each tax return when they are filed in the current calendar year.

If you file your return electronically, each person in the household who has been assigned an IP PIN must include it with the electronic filing. Failure to include the IP PIN will result in a rejection of the return. If a return is paper filed, only the taxpayer and spouse must include their IP PIN. Dependent IP PINs do not need to be included on paper filed returns.

I lost my IP PIN, now what?

What if you have moved recently and the IRS has your old address, or you mistakenly threw away the CP01A notice the IRS sent you in January? Don’t worry, the IRS has a tool on their website for taxpayers to retrieve an IP PIN. By using the IRS “Retrieve Your IP PIN” tool and answering some identifying questions, you’ll be able to recover the six digit number necessary to file your return.


Using an IP PIN will help protect your identity when it comes to filing a tax return. Fraudulent return filers will not be able to electronically file a return using your social security number and claim fraudulent refunds in your name. Currently, there is not an opt out option from the program. Once the taxpayer has requested to receive the IP PIN, they will continue receiving a new IP PIN each January. The IRS is planning to introduce an opt out program starting in 2022, however there is no current way for a taxpayer to request that they cease receiving an IP PIN each year.

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