IRS Form 5071C Verifies Your Identity

Close up of the refund line on an IRS tax form
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While the Internal Revenue Service may not be everyone's best friend, there are occasions when you might be glad that they are watching. 

The chances of the IRS contacting you increases as the rate of identity theft continues to rise. You may receive a Form 5071C in the mail. This mailing is an attempt by the IRS to notify you that a tax return was filed for you and that the agency wants to verify that you filed it.

It's important to review the information and take action right away if you receive this IRS notice because its purpose is to verify your identity and protect you, not take more money from you. 

Form 5071C

IRS Form 5071C is a communication from the IRS requesting additional information to confirm your identity. The agency is confirming that you are the person who filed a tax return. Social Security identity theft victims might be familiar with the form because it's often the first notice a tax fraud victim receives that someone has stolen their identity. 

You'll typically receive this letter if the IRS has received a federal income tax return with your name or Social Security number associated with it. The IRS picked up on one or more indications that made it suspect that it might not have been you who filed the return and who seeks a refund. The form asks for some identifying information and wants to confirm that you submitted the return.

What to Do If You Receive One

If you receive Form 5071C, take the following steps:

  • Visit the secure website run by the IRS, the IRS Identity Verification Service. Here you can enter your information and electronically verify your return. 
  • If you don't have internet access—or would prefer to resolve the issue over the phone—call the number listed on your Form 5071C letter. A call center specialist will help you resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
  • If you did not file the listed return shown on the Form 5071C letter, inform the IRS quickly via the website or by phone. 

The website and number are only for tax return identification purposes so the wait should not be too long. However, neither option can answer questions on your tax refund status or other issues. 

You'll need several forms of identification on hand when you contact the IRS. They'll ask you to provide your Social Security number, your driver's license number if you have one, and a copy of your birth certificate. The IRS will likely ask you questions about last year's tax return, such as your adjusted gross income, for further proof that it is you. 

What Happens With the Return

Your tax return will be processed after it's verified as legitimate. There's no need to resubmit your return or to make any additional payments. It can sometimes take as long as nine weeks to process your return after your identity has been confirmed. 

If the Return Was False

You should take other measures to protect your identity after you notify the IRS that your tax return was falsified. You should notify the three main credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and the Federal Trade Commission.

Tell them that you have reason to believe that you are at risk for credit fraud and identity theft. You can freeze your accounts so that no one can open any other accounts (credit cards, bank accounts) in your name. 

Article Sources

  1. Internal Revenue Service. "Understanding Your 5071C Letter." Accessed April 21, 2020.

  2. Experian. "What to Do If You’re a Victim of Tax Identity Theft." Accessed April 21, 2020.

  3. Internal Revenue Service. "Identity Verification Service." Accessed April 21, 2020.