How Identity Theft Threatens Your Tax Refunds

At Maicher CPA Pllc, we provide comprehensive tax services to help individuals and businesses reduce taxes and promptly receive tax refunds.  However, every year, the IRS pays out billions in refunds to identity thieves who file fake returns, including 3 million such returns for 2019.  Theft victims will wait several months for claim resolution – and the receipt of refunds. 

What is the scam?  How to minimize the risk of being victimized?  What to do if you are?  

Identity thieves steal social security numbers to file false tax returns to divert refund checks – usually early in the tax season to beat legitimate filings.  

Strategies for countering identity theft?

  • Opt-in for multi-factor authentication on all accounts and for your online tax application, use your username, password and a third item like a phone number.
  • Provide your social security number and other financial information only after verifying the requester and be extra cautious about telephone inquiries.    
  • Regularly check credit reports for suspicious activity.   
  • And remember the obvious: filing your taxes early often prevents identity theft because the IRS allows only one tax return per social security number per year.

Maicher urges clients to be alert to these signs of tax identity theft, among others: 

  • An IRS inquiry about a tax return which you didn’t file.
  • Inability to e-file your tax return (which signals prior use of a social security number).
  • Receipt of a tax transcript you didn’t request.
  • An IRS notice about the creation or activity of an online account you didn’t create.   

What if you are a victim of identity theft? 

  • Respond immediately to any IRS notice by calling the number provided.
  • If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete IRS Form 14039.
  • Visit for steps to protect yourself and your financial accounts.

Take-away:  Taxpayer identity theft strikes millions of victims but filing tax returns early is a powerful precaution.  Call Maicher today so we can get started on your return.     


“How to Protect Yourself From The ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams,” Forbes (July 16, 2020).
TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION – “Results of the 2019 Filing Season January 22, 2020” (3 million fake returns were reported through April of 2019).
“IRS Launches Identity Theft Central – Focuses on Needs Of Taxpayers, Tax Professionals and Businesses,” (February 3, 2020).
“What the IRS Isn’t Telling You About Identity Theft,” – USA Today (January 30, 2016).