IRS Letter 5071C - What Does It Mean?

December 08, 2021 by Kate Ferreira, CTEC
Woman reading a letter

It is a cold, rainy day in December and you decide to brave the weather to run to your mailbox. Finally, back inside and warming up by the fire, you begin to search through today’s mail. While riffling through coupons for the local burger joint and tossing credit card ads to the side, your eyes fall on three letters that make your heart stop – I.R.S. You could swear that you heard a thunderclap echo in the sky and your fire got just a little colder. You tear the letter open and see it is an IRS Letter 5071C. What on earth does this letter mean? Are you being audited? Why did you receive this letter in the mail?

No need to panic – we are here to help explain this to you!

First things first, an IRS Letter 5071C is not an audit.


Whew, you can take a deep breath! At this point, the IRS is not auditing your tax return. In fact, they have not even begun to review it yet! In order for the IRS to review your tax return and issue any refund, they need to verify your identity.

Now, there are two courses of action for this notice. If you did file your return, you need to verify your identity with the IRS – which will be discussed below. However, if you did not file the return in question, and you think someone might have filed a fraudulent return using your information, you need to contact the IRS immediately to confirm if you are a victim of identity theft. For more information, click here to check out our blog on identity theft and the IRS Letter 5071C.

If you did file your tax return, you still need to verify your information with the IRS. These verification procedures have been put in place by the IRS and many states to ensure that tax returns are being filed by the legitimate taxpayer and any tax refunds are going to the correct person. While it might seem like an inconvenience, it is done with your safety and protection in mind.

To verify your identity, visit the Identity Verification Services website, which can be accessed 24 hours a day, and follow the prompts. To complete the identity verification process, you will need to create an account through the IRS website, unless you have an existing account or IRS username.

To create an account, you will need:

  • Photo identification (driver’s license, state ID, or passport)
  • The Form 1040-series tax return for the year shown on the letter

Please keep in mind that a W2 or 1099 is not an income tax return and may not be used in place of your tax return.

You will be required to take a photo of your identification documents as well as a selfie with either a smartphone or webcam.

If you are unable to verify your identity online, or do not have the proper documentation to set up an account, you can verify your identity by calling the toll-free number listed on your letter. Please keep in mind that the toll-free number on the notice is for identity verification only and no other tax-related information will be available for discussion. If you would like to have an authorized third party assist you with the call, you would need to also be a part of the call and complete the verification together.

When calling, please make sure to have:
  • Your 5071C letter
  • The Form 1040-series tax return for the year shown on the letter
  • Any other prior year tax return, if you filed one
  • Any supporting W-2s, 1099s, Schedule C, Schedule F, etc.

If you are unable to verify your identity online or by phone, the IRS might request you to make an appointment with a local IRS office to verify your identity. If this is requested, we recommend you follow the instructions and visit your local IRS office to complete the verification.

While this is not officially an audit and something that requires assistance from one of TaxAudit’s excellent tax professionals, guidance on notices like the IRS Letter 5071C are all part of the peace of mind that comes from an audit defense membership. If you are interested in purchasing audit defense, click here!



Kate Ferreira
Communications Associate


Kate Ferreira is a Communications Associate with TaxAudit. A California Tax Education Council (CTEC) registered tax professional, Kate has been with the organization since 2015. Kate enjoys the challenge of writing about complex issues – including taxes. Outside of work she enjoys traveling, listening to vinyl, and going on adventures with her dog, Indiana Bones.


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