Publication 5027: Identity Theft Information for Taxpayers

Publication 5027 is an informational resource provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help taxpayers understand and address tax-related identity theft. It outlines the definition, warning signs, steps to take if you're a victim, and preventive measures to minimize the risk.

What is Tax-Related Identity Theft?

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen SSN to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. Criminals often target SSNs because they are essential for filing tax returns and claiming tax benefits. This can lead to a number of problems for the real taxpayer, including:

  • Delays in receiving your tax refund
  • Difficulty filing your tax return electronically
  • Owing taxes or penalties on income you never received

Warning Signs of Tax-Related Identity Theft

Here are some indicators that you might be a victim of tax-related identity theft:

  • The IRS rejects your electronically filed tax return because a return has already been filed under your SSN.
  • You receive a notice from the IRS indicating a discrepancy between your tax return and the information they have on file.
  • Your IRS wage and income transcript shows income from an employer you never worked for.
  • You receive a tax refund notice or IRS correspondence addressed to someone else at your address.

What to Do if You Are a Victim?

If you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, it's important to act quickly. Here are the steps you should take:

Respond immediately to any IRS notices: Call the number provided on the notice to speak with an IRS representative and explain the situation.

Report the identity theft to the IRS: File an Identity Theft Affidavit (Form 14039) with the IRS. This form helps the IRS verify your identity and take steps to prevent further fraudulent activity. You can find a fillable version of the form at

Report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): File a complaint with the FTC at or call the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338. This will help create a record of the identity theft and provide you with additional resources.

Place a freeze on your credit report: Contact all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and request a security freeze on your credit report. This will help prevent criminals from opening new accounts in your name.

File your tax return: Even if you believe someone has already filed a return under your SSN, you should still file your own tax return as soon as possible. You can file a paper return with the IRS, attaching a copy of Form 14039.

What if I already contacted the IRS and haven't gotten a resolution?

Publication 5027 recommends contacting the IRS for specialized assistance at 1-800-908-4490. The IRS has teams dedicated to assisting taxpayers who are victims of identity theft.

Can I get help recovering my stolen tax refund?

The IRS will work with you to investigate the fraudulent return and attempt to recover any stolen funds. However, the process can be lengthy. Publication 5027 doesn't specify the timeframe for recovering stolen refunds.

How can I prevent tax-related identity theft?

A. Safeguard your Social Security number. Don't carry your SSN card with you unless absolutely necessary. Shred any documents containing your SSN before discarding them.

B. Be cautious about sharing personal information online and over the phone. Don't respond to unsolicited requests for your SSN or other personal details.

C. File your tax return electronically as soon as possible after receiving your tax documents. This reduces the window of opportunity for criminals to file a fraudulent return before you.

D. Regularly monitor your credit report for suspicious activity. You can obtain a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus annually.