If your legitimate tax return is rejected for being a duplicate—meaning someone has already filed a return in your name—the Federal Trade Commission and the IRS are ready to help you take the next steps.

Identity theft and its related crimes are broken into different categories, typically based on how the crime came about or what type of end result the criminal was after. Child identity theft, for example, involves the unauthorized use of a child’s information, while medical identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s identity and uses it to seek medical care or prescription medications.

One type of identity theft saw exponential growth in the number of reports over the past few years, leaving countless victims and massive financial losses in its wake. Tax return fraud, which happens when someone files a fake tax return in your name, not only steals money owed to the government that came from taxpayer funds, it can also severely delay your legitimate refund and filing.

The increase in tax return fraud may be connected to the record-setting numbers of data breaches in recent years. These events unleashed hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ complete identities, letting anyone with access to file both federal and multiple state tax returns using the victims’ information.

Typically, victims of tax return fraud only discover that someone has used their identity to file a return after their own legitimate tax return is rejected for being a duplicate filing. From there, the tedious process of informing the IRS, by filing the proper paperwork to demonstrate you are a victim of identity theft, begins. This process can take months and delay any refund that you’re owed.

To help streamline this process, the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission have teamed up to help victims of tax return fraud file a claim in an easy, timely way. A new web portal run by the FTC feeds your responses to an online Form 14039 and sends it to the IRS, while also allowing you to download a copy for your records. Within 30 days, you’ll hear from the IRS with confirmation that they’ve received your information and your claim.

If you or someone you know needs this kind of support, you can find all the information at IdentityTheft.gov. You can also work to build an identity theft recovery plan on the site while you’re at it, but remember, your legitimate tax return is still due, even if there’s a fraud issue pending. Don’t forget to file it, and don’t wait until your identity matter is resolved.


 Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.