Be Prepared to Validate Identity if Contacting the IRS

Tax season is in full swing and you may find a need to contact the Internal Revenue Service about your filing.  If so, you will be asked to verify your identity when calling.

So, what will be needed to verify your identity?  Here is list of information which may be needed:

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates for those who were named on the tax return
  • Filing status – single, head of household, married filing joint or married filing separate
  • The prior-year tax return. Telephone assistors may need to verify taxpayer identity with information from the return before answering certain questions such as the amount on a particular line of the return
  • A copy of the tax return in question
  • Any IRS letters or notices received by the taxpayer

If a third-party calls the IRS on your behalf, the IRS will only speak to the legally designated representative.  A parent cannot call on behalf of their adult child nor can a child call on behalf of a parent unless proper documentation is signed.  A Power of Attorney prepared by an attorney most likely will not be sufficient in these cases.  Here are the items needed to speak to the IRS on behalf of another taxpayer:

  • Verbal or written authorization from the third-party to discuss the account
  • The ability to verify the taxpayer’s name, SSN/ITIN, tax period, and tax form(s) filed
  • Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) or PIN if a third-party designee
  • A current, completed and signed Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization or
  • A completed and signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative

If a tax professional is calling about a third party’s account, they should be prepared to verify their identities and provide information about the third party they are representing. The IRS will ask for a Form 2848 (above) before proceeding to discuss the taxpayer’s account.

Questions regarding a deceased taxpayer require different steps. Be prepared to fax:

  • The deceased taxpayer’s death certificate, and
  • Either copies of Letters Testamentary approved by the court, or IRS Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship (for estate executors)

Finally, don’t forget that visiting may help to answer questions you may have.  Try searching the Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Topics, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Trails and the IRS Tax Map to get faster answers.


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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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