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What is the IRS Letter 5071C?

Jo Willetts, EA

Director, Tax Resources

Published on: March 19, 2020

With identity theft, data breaches, and tax scams (read our article about those here) becoming more and more common, protecting your personal information should be a top priority. Thankfully, the IRS thinks so too.

What is the purpose of IRS Letter 5071C?

To protect you from potential tax fraud, the IRS may send you a Letter 5071C in the mail. This letter is a notification that a tax return was filed in your name, and the IRS wants to verify that you filed it before they process it. 

Why did I receive a Form 5071C?

Taxpayers receive the Letter 5071C if the IRS suspects that someone other than you filed your federal income tax return. The form asks for specific identifying information to confirm that it was you who sent the return.

What should I do if I receive a Form 5071C?

If you receive a Letter 5071C, you need to contact the IRS by either visiting IRS Identity Verification Service and entering your information electronically or by calling the number listed on Letter Form 5071C and speaking with an IRS call center specialist. If you don’t see the phone number or the IRS letter number on the pages, it could be a tax scam. If you think it is, you can call the IRS to report it at 800-829-1040. 

When you contact the IRS to verify your identity, you should have the following documents and information on hand:

  • Your Social Security number

  • Your date of birth

  • The filing status and mailing address from your previous year’s tax return

  • Your email address

  • Your personal account number from a credit card, mortgage, student loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit or car loan

  • A mobile phone associated with your name

  • A copy of Letter 5071C sent to you

  • The income tax return (form 1040,1040-PR, 1040-NR, 1040-SR, etc.) for the year shown in the  letter* (Note: A W-2 or 1099 is not an income tax return)

If you did not file the return listed on Letter 5071C, you should inform the IRS either on the website or by calling the number on the form. 

*A Letter 5747C is also sent to verify your identity for a previous year return. If the IRS doesn't hear back from you, they may not process your return, issue refunds, or apply any overpayments to next year’s estimated tax.

What happens if my tax return is verified?

After your identity and tax return is verified, your tax return will be processed. However, it can take as long as nine weeks for your taxes to be processed after your identity is confirmed.

What happens if the tax return is falsified? 

If you received a Letter 5071C, did not file a tax return, and confirmed someone falsely submitted your tax return, you need to file a Form 14039, an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit with your tax return.

Attach the form to your tax return and mail the entire package to the service center for your area. If you need to submit the form after your return has been filed, because you have been notified by IRS, or your ID has been stolen or compromised outside of filing season, mail the affidavit to the address in the instructions. Once the IRS receives the affidavit, they will start the resolution process. 

Even with the potential of identity theft, you must file your tax return and pay any taxes owed. If your tax return has already been rejected by the IRS because yours, your spouses, or a dependent’s social security number has already been accepted, you bill be unable to file electronically and you must file a paper return.

The IRS states that most cases will be handled in under 120 days, with some taking as long as 180. A Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report from 2016 found that victims of ID theft were waiting an average of 166 days for their account to be resolved.

The resolution of your identity theft case is based upon the number of cases pending before the IRS and the complexity of your individual case. Your case will be handled by the Identity Theft Victim Assistance Headquarters, which is staffed by personnel with specialized training to handle such cases.

Should I get help from a tax professional?

Once you contact the IRS about the identity theft or the possibility of identity theft, they will advise you on how to proceed. A tax professional can also help you out with the process involved in handling this issue.

You will need to prove your identity with the help of documentation such as your SSN card, driver’s license, or passport. Once the IRS confirms that you are a victim of identity theft, you will be issued a unique, six-digit number called the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number or IP PIN, each year. You must use your IP PIN every year so you can file your return without any hitch.

Need help? Reach out to a Jackson Hewitt Tax Debt Resolution Specialist!

About the Author

Jo Willetts, Director of Tax Resources at Jackson Hewitt, has more than 35 years of experience in the tax industry. As an Enrolled Agent, Jo has attained the highest level of certification for a tax professional. She began her career at Jackson Hewitt as a Tax Pro, working her way up to General Manager of a franchise store. In her current role, Jo provides expert knowledge company-wide to ensure that tax information distributed through all Jackson Hewitt channels is current and accurate.

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