Tax Identity Theft – What to Know and How to Stop it

02 Oct 2023


Imagine filing your income tax return with the IRS, expecting that much-needed refund within a few weeks. But instead, you receive an IRS notice three months later that your return and refund claim was rejected because it was already claimed – by someone else.

This is the nightmare scenario that many taxpayers are facing as the problem of tax identity theft continues to grow. In 2022, the IRS received over 5.8 million reports of identity theft, and of those, over 1.2 million involved tax refund theft, with thieves stealing on average $10,300.

What is Tax Identity Theft?

Tax identity theft occurs when malicious actors use stolen personal information to file false tax returns, fraudulently claiming refunds in the victim’s name. It is an especially pernicious form of identity theft that exploits the intricacies of the tax system to deceive authorities and exploit unsuspecting taxpayers.

How does it Occur?

Tax identity theft starts with thieves gaining access to a taxpayer’s social security number and other information via a data breach, phishing scam, or other compromised documents or data sources. The thieves then file an income tax return using the taxpayer’s information to generate a refund, which the thief intercepts. Unfortunately, taxpayers often learn of the theft upon filing income tax returns as intended.

Risks to Taxpayers

Tax identity theft poses severe risks to individuals, extending beyond financial loss. Victims may experience prolonged legal battles, damage to their credit scores, and reputational harm. Additionally, the exposure of personal information during a tax identity theft incident can lead to broader privacy concerns and the potential for further fraudulent activities.

Typical Resolution

Resolving tax identity theft can be a complex and time-consuming process. It typically involves detecting the theft, reporting it to the IRS, and engaging in communication and cooperation with tax authorities. Victims must navigate through intricate procedures to recover their financial losses, rectify fraudulent filings, and restore their identities.

Preventative Steps

To minimize the risk of tax identity theft, individuals can take proactive steps to protect themselves:

Monitor Tax Transcripts: Regularly review tax transcripts from the IRS to identify any suspicious activity or unauthorized filings. Early detection is crucial for prompt action.
Create a Plan of Action: Develop a comprehensive plan to respond swiftly if tax identity theft occurs. Know the necessary steps to report the incident, contact the IRS, and engage in the resolution process.
Stay Informed: Keep abreast of the latest trends and techniques used by tax identity thieves. Awareness empowers individuals to recognize potential threats and take preventative measures.
Utilize Additional Resources: Leverage resources provided by the IRS, such as educational materials, workshops, and online tools, to enhance your understanding of tax identity theft and stay informed about prevention strategies.


Tax identity theft poses a significant threat to individuals, both financially and emotionally. By familiarizing ourselves with the risks, adopting preventive measures, and staying vigilant, we can fortify our defenses against this pervasive crime. Remember, taking proactive steps to protect your tax identity is essential for a secure financial future. Stay informed, stay alert, and take action to stop tax identity theft in its tracks.

By taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, you can help to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of tax identity theft.

Join our Mailing List
No spam. Just the latest releases and tips, interesting articles, and more in your inbox.
Read about our privacy policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.