- What is Tax Identity Theft?
- What do I do if I think I am a victim of Tax Identity Theft?
- What should I expect next from DOR?
- Why does the Department of Revenue need my social security number?
- How can Identity Theft affect my tax account?
- What can I do to protect my personal information from identity thieves?
- What other resources are available to me?
With respect to taxes and tax fraud, identity thieves may use your Social Security number to obtain employment or file a fraudulent income tax return to obtain a refund. Tax Identity Theft occurs when a taxpayer’s Social Security number is used by another individual to get a job. Wages are then reported under the stolen Social Security number and the taxpayer receives a bill from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR). The affected taxpayer often never lived or worked in Massachusetts. Thieves may also try to use your Social Security number to file a fraudulent income tax return with the DOR to obtain a refund.
If you believe you are a victim of Identity Theft the DOR will need all of the following information from you in order to assist you. Please provide a copy of the following five (5) documents:
- A copy of your income tax return for the year(s) in question filed in your place of residence or IRS (Federal) return if your state does not require you to file a state income tax return.
- A copy of your social security card.
- A copy of a police report filed at your local police department.
- A copy of your birth certificate.
- A copy of a valid identification- Driver’s license, state issued identification or a passport.
If you have already completed an Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039, for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), please include a copy of that form.
Please also provide a daytime telephone number where a DOR identity theft examiner will be able to contact you to further discuss this matter.
The above information should be faxed to (617) 887-5089. Your fax machine should provide you with a receipt indicating the documents were successfully transmitted to the above number. If you have questions, please e-mail those questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (617) 887-5005 (Please leave an unblocked number our telephones do not allow unblocking.) .
Please note that if you do not provide the above requested information, your case will be closed and collection activity will begin immediately and continue until the above requested information has been submitted.
Once DOR has received all of the above information your case will be assigned to an identity theft examiner who will contact you at the telephone number that you have provided within 5 days of receiving your information.
The examiner assigned to your case may ask for additional information such as if you ever lived or worked in Massachusetts, where you worked, etc. The examiner will also put your case on hold so that you do not receive any additional bills or enforcement activity while your case is being reviewed.
Important - If your bank account has been levied, please contact DOR at (617) 887-5005 (Please leave an unblocked number our telephones do not allow unblocking.) and we will assist with removing the bank levy. Please have your account number available when you contact us.
In most cases, you will not be required to file an Amended Return and DOR will be able to resolve your Identity Theft case within 45 calendar days from the date we receive the above required information. If for some reason DOR is unable to resolve your case within 45 days, the examiner assigned to your case will contact you to discuss the next steps in your case.
Under Massachusetts law, the Department of Revenue has the right to require an individual to furnish his or her Social Security number on a state tax return. This information is mandatory as DOR uses these numbers for taxpayer identification and forms processing. Taxpayer identification numbers are also required to process tax refunds. Although tax return information generally is confidential, DOR may legally disclose return information to other taxing authorities and to those authorized by law.
For more information about the confidentiality of tax information, visit the following website:
- Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 62C, Section 21: Disclosure of tax information
- 830 CMR 62C.21.1: Confidentiality of Tax Information
Most people think of identity theft as stolen bank account or credit card information. However, identity thieves can also use your personal information to file a tax return in order to obtain a refund or to get a job.
For instance, if someone stole your Social Security number to obtain a job, the employer would report any income earned to the IRS and the Department of Revenue under that Social Security number, making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return.
An identity thief might also use your Social Security number to file a tax return in order to receive a refund. If the thief files the tax return before you do, it will appear to DOR that you already filed and received your refund.
If you receive a notice from DOR that leads you to believe someone may have used your Social Security number fraudulently, contact DOR's Taxpayer Service Division immediately either by phone or in writing as directed in the notice. A DOR examiner will address your concerns.
You should be alerted to possible identity theft if the DOR notice states that:
- More than one tax return for you was filed, or
- DOR records indicate you received wages from an employer that you have never worked for.
Be careful when choosing someone to prepare your income tax returns as tax preparers have access to your personal records. Always choose a professional. DOR cannot recommend a preparer, however the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Massachusetts Society of Enrolled Agents, or the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Tax Practitioners may provide guidance when choosing a paid preparer. The IRS states that taxpayers should always avoid any preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers, or who guarantee results or base fees on a percentage of the amount of the refund.
If you are the sole proprietor of a business, you may want to consider using an Employer Identification number (as opposed to your Social Security number) for business purposes. Visit the IRS website for more information or to apply for an Employer Identification number.
Identity thieves have many avenues available to them for obtaining your personal information. However, there are a number of precautions you can take to minimize your risk. Here are a few:
- Order a copy of your credit report and check it closely for accuracy. Massachusetts residents are entitled to a free copy of their credit report from each of the three consumer reporting companies once during any 12-month period.
- Keep important personal information, such as Social Security cards and birth certificates, in a secure place in your home. Do not carry them with you in your purse or wallet.
- Review all credit card and bank statements carefully each month to discover any unusual activity or unauthorized charges.
- Do not give out personal information over the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you have initiated the interaction or know for certain whom you are dealing with.
- Change your driver's license number from you Social Security number to a randomly assigned number.
While DOR can only assist you with identity theft matters involving your Massachusetts tax returns, below are links to other state, federal and private organizations that may be able to assist you:
- IRS Identity Theft Information for Taxpayers
- Federal Trade Commission
- Massachusetts Attorney General
- Massachusetts Secretary of State
- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
- Executive Office of Public Safety
- Credit Agencies