Security Summit: Tax pros should encourage clients to obtain IP PINs to protect against tax-related identity theft

WASHINGTON – Internal Revenue Service Security Summit partners today called on tax professionals to increase efforts to inform clients about the Identity Protection PIN Opt-In Program that can protect against tax-related identity theft.
 
The IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax industry – working together as the Security Summit  –  need assistance from tax professionals to spread the word to clients that the IP PIN is now available to anyone who can verify their identity.

Sharing information about the IP PIN Opt-In Program is the second in a five-part weekly series sponsored by the Summit partners to highlight critical steps tax professionals can take to protect client data. This year’s theme “Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft” is an effort to urge tax professionals to intensify efforts to secure their systems and protect client data during this pandemic and its aftermath.

“An Identity Protection PIN prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number,” said Chuck Rettig, IRS commissioner. “We’ve now made the IP PIN available to anyone who can verify their identity. This is a free way for taxpayers to protect themselves, but we need the help of tax professionals to make sure more people know about it.”

The IRS created Publication 5367, IP PIN Opt-In Program for Taxpayers, in English and Spanish, so that tax professionals could print and share the IP PIN information with clients. There are also special posters available in English and Spanish.

For security reasons, tax professionals cannot obtain an IP PIN on behalf of clients. Taxpayers must obtain their own IP PIN.

Summit partners urged taxpayers and tax professionals to protect the IP PIN from identity thieves. Taxpayers should share their IP PIN only with their trusted tax prep provider. Tax professionals should never store clients’ IP PINs on computer systems. Also, the IRS will never call, email or text either taxpayers or tax preparers to request the IP PIN.

Tax professionals who experience a data theft can assist clients by urging them to quickly obtain an IP PIN. Even if a thief already has filed a fraudulent return, an IP PIN would still offer protections for later years and prevent taxpayers from being repeat victims of tax-related identity theft.

Here are a few things taxpayers should know about the IP PIN:

  • It’s a six-digit number known only to the taxpayer and the IRS.
  • The opt-in program is voluntary.
  • The IP PIN should be entered onto the electronic tax return when prompted by the software product or onto a paper return next to the signature line.
  • The IP PIN is valid for one calendar year; taxpayers must obtain a new IP PIN each year.
  • Only dependents who can verify their identities may obtain an IP PIN.
  • IP PIN users should never share their number with anyone but the IRS and their trusted tax preparation provider. The IRS will never call, email or text a request for the IP PIN.

Currently, taxpayers may obtain an IP PIN for 2021, which should be used when filing any federal tax returns during the year. New IP PINs will be available starting in January 2022.

To obtain an IP PIN, the best option is the Get an IP PIN, the IRS online tool. Taxpayers must validate their identities through Secure Access authentication to access the tool and their IP PIN. Before attempting this rigorous process, see Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tools. The tool is offline between November and January.

If you are unable to validate your identity online and if your income is $72,000 or less, you may file Form 15227, Application for an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number. The IRS will call the telephone number provided on Form 15227 to validate your identity. However, for security reasons, the IRS will assign an IP PIN for the next filing season. The IP PIN cannot be used for the current filing season.

Taxpayers who cannot validate their identities online, or on the phone with an IRS employee after submitting a Form 15227, or who are ineligible to file a Form 15227 may call the IRS to make an appointment at a Taxpayer Assistance Center. They will need to bring one picture identification document and another identification document to prove their identity. Once verified, the taxpayer will receive an IP PIN via U.S. Postal Service within three weeks.

The IP PIN process for confirmed victims of identity theft remains unchanged. These victims will automatically receive an IP PIN each year.

Additional resources
Tax professionals also can get help with security recommendations by reviewing the recently revised IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, and Small Business Information Security: The Fundamentals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The IRS Identity Theft Central pages for tax pros, individuals and businesses have important details as well.

Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax Professionals, provides a compilation of data theft information available on IRS.gov. Also, tax professionals should stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals and Social Media.

For more information, see Boost Security Immunity: Fighting Against Identity Theft.

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The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to update direct deposit information or unenroll


The IRS recently upgraded the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to enable families to update their bank account information so they can receive their monthly Child Tax Credit payment. The tool also allows families to unenroll from the advance payments if they don’t want to receive them. The Update Portal is available only on IRS.gov.

Any updates made by August 2 will apply to the August 13 payment and all subsequent monthly payments for the rest of 2021. Families will receive their July 15 payment by direct deposit in the bank account currently on file with the IRS.

People without current bank account information can use the online tool to update their information so they can get the payments sooner by direct deposit. Those who are not enrolled for direct deposit will receive a check.

How to update direct deposit information
First, families should use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to confirm their eligibility for payments. If eligible, the tool will also indicate whether they are enrolled to receive their payments by direct deposit.

If so, it will list the full bank routing number and the last four digits of their account number. This is the account that will receive their July 15 payment.

If they choose, they can change the bank account receiving the payment starting with the August 13 payment.  

If the Update Portal shows a family is eligible to receive payments but not enrolled to receive them by direct deposit, they will receive a mailed check each month. If they want to receive their payments by direct deposit, they can use the Update Portal to add their bank account information.  Couples who are married and file jointly must both update their bank account information the same day to the same account to continue getting joint payments.

Any family receiving checks should consider switching to direct deposit to access their money quicker. Direct deposit removes the time, worry and expense of cashing a check, and eliminates the chance of a lost, stolen or undelivered check. People who don’t have a bank account can visit the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation website for details on opening an account online or use the FDIC’s BankFind tool to locate an FDIC-insured bank. BankOnAmerican Bankers AssociationIndependent Community Bankers of America, and the National Credit Union Administration have lists of banks and credit unions that can open an account online.

Families can stop payments anytime
Even after payments begin, families can stop all future monthly payments by using the unenroll feature in the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. Eligible families who make this choice will still receive the rest of their child tax credit as a lump sum when they file their 2021 federal income tax return next year. To stop all payments starting in August and the rest of 2021, they must unenroll by August 2, 2021.

Who should unenroll?
Some families may prefer to receive the entire credit as a refund when they file their 2021 return. The portal’s unenroll feature can also be helpful to any family that no longer qualifies for the child tax credit or believes they will not qualify when they file their 2021 return. Married filing joint taxpayers both need to unenroll. If one spouse does not unenroll, they will get half of the joint payment they were supposed to receive with their spouse.

For more information about the unenrollment process, including deadlines, see Topic J of the Child Tax Credit FAQs on IRS.gov.

The IRS will add more features to the Child Tax Credit Update Portal through the summer and fall. Soon people will be able update their mailing address. By fall, people will be able to use the tool to update changes to family status and income. More information is on the Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021 page of IRS.gov


Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to update direct deposit information or unenroll. https://go.usa.gov/x6zFa
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IRS readies nearly 4 million refunds for unemployment compensation overpayments

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today it will issue another round of refunds this week to nearly 4 million taxpayers who overpaid their taxes on unemployment compensation received last year.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which became law in March, excluded up to $10,200 in 2020 unemployment compensation from taxable income calculations. The exclusion applied to individuals and married couples whose modified adjusted gross income was less than $150,000.

Refunds by direct deposit will begin July 14 and refunds by paper check will begin July 16. The IRS previously issued refunds related to unemployment compensation exclusion in May and June, and it will continue to issue refunds throughout the summer.

To ease the burden on taxpayers, the IRS has been reviewing the Forms 1040 and 1040SR that were filed prior to the law’s enactment to identify those people who are due an adjustment. For taxpayers who overpaid, the IRS will either refund the overpayment, apply it to other outstanding taxes or other federal or state debts owed.

For this round, the IRS identified approximately 4.6 million taxpayers who may be due an adjustment. Of that number, approximately 4 million taxpayers are expected to receive a refund. The refund average is $1,265, which means some will receive more and some will receive less.

Most taxpayers need not take any action and there is no need to call the IRS. However, if, as a result of the excluded unemployment compensation, taxpayers are now eligible for deductions or credits not claimed on the original return, they should file a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Taxpayers should file an amended return if they:

  • did not submit a Schedule 8812 with the original return to claim the Additional Child Tax Credit and are now eligible for the credit after the unemployment compensation exclusion;
  • did not submit a Schedule EIC with the original return to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (with qualifying dependents) and are now eligible for the credit after the unemployment compensation exclusion;
  • are now eligible for any other credits and/or deductions not mentioned below. Make sure to include any required forms or schedules.

Taxpayers do not need to file an amended return if they:

  • already filed a tax return and did not claim the unemployment exclusion; the IRS will determine the correct taxable amount of unemployment compensation and tax;
  • have an adjustment, because of the exclusion, that will result in an increase in any non-refundable or refundable credits reported on the original return;
  • did not claim the following credits on their tax return but are now eligible when the unemployment exclusion is applied: Recovery Rebate Credit, Earned Income Credit with no qualifying dependents or the Advance Premium Tax Credit. The IRS will calculate the credit and include it in any overpayment;
  • filed a married filing joint return, live in a community property state, and entered a smaller exclusion amount than entitled on Schedule 1, line 8.

Taxpayers will generally receive letters from the IRS within 30 days of the adjustment, informing them of what kind of adjustment was made (such as refund, payment of IRS debt payment or payment offset for other authorized debts) and the amount of the adjustment.

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How to manage Child Tax Credit payments

IRS announces two new online tools to help families manage Child Tax Credit payments

Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant helps families determine whether they qualify for Child Tax Credit payments

Update Portal helps families monitor and manage Child Tax Credit payments 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today launched two new online tools designed to help families manage and monitor the advance monthly payments of Child Tax Credits under the American Rescue Plan. These two new tools are in addition to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, announced last week, which helps families not normally required to file an income tax return to quickly register for the Child Tax Credit.

The new Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant allows families to answer a series of questions to quickly determine whether they qualify for the advance credit.

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for the payments and if they choose to, unenroll, or opt out from receiving the monthly payments so they can receive a lump sum when they file their tax return next year. This secure, password-protected tool is available to any eligible family with internet access and a smart phone or computer. Future versions of the tool planned in the summer and fall will allow people to view their payment history, adjust bank account information or mailing addresses and other features. A Spanish version is also planned.

Both the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant and Child Tax Credit Update Portal are available now on IRS.gov.

The American Rescue plan increased the maximum Child Tax Credit amount in 2021 to $3,600 per child for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children ages 6 through 17. The advance Child Tax Credit payments, which will generally be made on the 15th of each month, create financial certainty for families to plan their budgets. Eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6, and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. The first monthly payment of the expanded and newly-advanceable Child Tax Credit will be made on July 15. Most families will begin receiving monthly payments automatically next month without any further action required.

“IRS employees continue to work hard to help people receive this important credit,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “The Update Portal is a key piece among the three new tools now available on IRS.gov to help families understand, register for and monitor these payments. We will be working across the nation with partner groups to share information and help eligible people receive the advance payments.”

More features coming to the Update Portal soon

Coming soon, families will be able to use the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to check the status of their payments. In late June, people will be able to update their bank account information for payments starting in August. In early August, a feature is planned that will allow people to update their mailing address. Then, in future updates planned for this summer and fall, they will be able to use this tool for things like updating family status and changes in income.

For more information see the FAQs, which will continue to be updated.

Update Portal allows people to unenroll

Instead of receiving these advance payments, some families may prefer to wait until the end of the year and receive the entire credit as a refund when they file their 2021 return. In this first release of the tool, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal now enables these families to quickly and easily unenroll from receiving monthly payments.

The unenroll feature can also be helpful to any family that no longer qualifies for the Child Tax Credit or believes they will not qualify when they file their 2021 return. This could happen if, for example:

  • Their income in 2021 is too high to qualify them for the credit.
  • Someone else (an ex-spouse or another family member, for example) qualifies to claim their child or children as dependents in 2021.
  • Their main home was outside of the United States for more than half of 2021.

Accessing the Update Portal

To access the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, a person must first verify their identity. If a person has an existing IRS username or an ID.me account with a verified identity, they can use those accounts to easily sign in. People without an existing account will be asked to verify their identity with a form of photo identification using ID.me, a trusted third party for the IRS. Identity verification is an important safeguard and will protect your account from identity theft.

Anyone who lacks internet access or otherwise cannot use the online tool may unenroll by contacting the IRS at the phone number included in your outreach letter.

Who is getting a monthly payment

In general, monthly payments will go to eligible families who:

  • Filed either a 2019 or 2020 federal income tax return.
  • Used the Non-Filers tool on IRS.gov in 2020 to register for an Economic Impact Payment.
  • Registered for the advance Child Tax Credit this year using the new Non-Filer Sign-Up Tool on IRS.gov.

An eligible family who took any of these steps does not need to do anything else to get their payments.

Normally, the IRS will calculate the advance payment based on the 2020 income tax return. If that return is not available, either because it has not yet been filed or it has not yet been processed, the IRS is instead determining the payment using the 2019 tax return.

Eligible families will receive advance payments, either by direct deposit or check. Each payment will be up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child ages 6 through 17. The IRS will issue advance Child Tax Credit payments on these dates: July 15, Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

The IRS urges any family who hasn’t yet filed their 2020 return – or 2019 return – to do so as soon as possible so they can receive any advance payment they’re eligible for. At the same time, the agency cautions that tax returns must be processed by June 28 to be reflected in the first batch of monthly payments scheduled for July 15, so eligible families filing now will likely receive payments in the following months. Even if monthly payments begin after July, the IRS will adjust the monthly amounts upward to ensure that people still receive half of their total eligible Child Tax Credit benefit by the end of the year.

Filing soon will also ensure that the IRS has their most current bank account information, as well as key details about qualifying family members. This includes people who don’t normally file a tax return, such as families experiencing homelessness and people in underserved groups.

For most people, the fastest and easiest way to file a return is by using IRS Free File, available only on IRS.gov. Besides qualifying them for these advance payments, using Free File will also enable them to claim other family-oriented tax benefits, if eligible, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Recovery Rebate Credit/Economic Impact Payments.

New tool helps non-filers register

For families who don’t normally file an income tax return, another easy option is to register for these advance payments using the new Non-filer Sign-up Tool, introduced recently, and available only on IRS.gov. Among other things, the tool asks users to supply current bank information, along with key details about themselves and their qualifying children. The tool then automatically fills in a very basic 2020 federal income tax return that is electronically sent to the IRS. The new tool was developed in partnership with Intuit and the Free File Alliance.

Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant unveiled

Before filing a return or using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, families unsure of whether they qualify for either the credit or the advance payments may want to check out another new tool—the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant. By answering a series of questions, the tool helps people determine if they qualify for the credit and the payments.

The IRS emphasized that because the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant requests no personalized information, it is not a registration tool, but merely an eligibility tool. Nevertheless, it can still help an eligible family determine whether they should take the next step and either file an income tax return or register using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool.

Personal help available

IRS and its partners are helping families register for the payments using the Non-filer Sign-up Tool. During late June and early July, free events will take place in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis and Washington, D.C. More details will be available soon on IRS.gov.

Child Tax Credit 2021

The IRS has created a special Advance Child Tax Credit 2021 page, designed to provide the most up-to-date information about the credit and the advance payments. It’s at IRS.gov/childtaxcredit2021.

Among other things, it provides direct links to the Non-Filer Sign Up Tool, the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, the Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant, a set of frequently asked questions and other useful resources.

Child Tax Credit changes

The American Rescue Plan raised the maximum Child Tax Credit in 2021 to $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and to $3,000 per child for children ages 6 through 17. Before 2021, the credit was worth up to $2,000 per eligible child.

The new maximum credit is available to taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income (AGI) of:

  • $75,000 or less for singles,
  • $112,500 or less for heads of household and
  • $150,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return and qualified widows and widowers.

For most people, modified AGI is the amount shown on Line 11 of their 2020 Form 1040 or 1040-SR. Above these income thresholds, the extra amount above the original $2,000 credit — either $1,000 or $1,600 per child — is reduced by $50 for every $1,000 in modified AGI. In addition, the credit is fully refundable for 2021. This means that eligible families can get it, even if they owe no federal income tax. Before this year, the refundable portion was limited to $1,400 per child.

Help spread the word

The IRS urges community groups, non-profits, associations, education organizations and anyone else with connections to people with children to share this critical information about the Child Tax Credit as well as other important benefits. Among other things, the IRS is already working closely with its community partners to ensure wide access to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool and the Child Tax Credit Update Portal. The agency is also providing additional materials and information that can be easily shared by social media, email and other methods.

For the most up-to-date information on the Child Tax Credit and advance payments, visit Advance Child Tax Credit Payments in 2021.

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