My Friend Did My Taxes And Stole My Identity

November 09, 2022 by Jean Lee Scherkey, EA
Worried woman looking at her phone

I had who I thought was a friend do my taxes last year! And she has not contacted me since !! I feel in my gut that she has gotten it and used it and or my identity??

-Tessa, WA



Dear Tessa,

I am sad to hear you are in this distressing situation! The unknown of whether your individual income tax return was prepared and filed without your prior approval is exasperating. But coupled with the concern of possible tax identity theft, you have a situation that can feel exasperating and too big to handle. We are glad you reached out with your question and hope we can help. Sometimes having someone guide you through the first steps is just what is needed to start on the road to resolution.

To say the least, the last couple of years have been topsy-turvy, and your friend may have experienced personal and family hardships that have kept her from reaching out. There might be a good reason you have not heard from your friend. The first action you may want to take is to ensure that there has not been some misunderstanding between the two of you or that something tragic did not happen to her or someone in her family. Although you have probably tried to contact your friend before this, try one more time. Jot down in a notebook the time and date you try to call. If you don’t reach her by phone, I recommend sending a text, email, and a message on her social media account, if you have access. Keep a detailed record of all the ways you tried to reach her. Although it may seem old-fashioned, you may want to try sending her a letter through the post office via certified mail and ask for a return receipt. Requesting a return receipt will verify that the letter was successfully delivered or a delivery attempt was made. When you call or write, you want to remind your friend how long you have been trying to reach her. Ask your friend about the status of your tax return. If she prepared a return, have her mail or fax a copy of the return to you. Alternatively, you can offer to pick up the return and your tax documents. If she has not been able to prepare your return, tell your friend that you need your tax documents back as soon as possible. Depending on your tax situation, it may be that your friend realized she was in over her head and was embarrassed to tell you she did not have the expertise to prepare your return. You may want to include in the letter that you hope she and her family are okay. Consider adding to the letter that if you do not hear back from your friend quickly, you will need to contact the IRS regarding your tax return.

Do you have mutual friends that may have been in contact with your friend? If you do, getting in touch with them to inquire if they have heard from your friend is also beneficial. Again, jot down the date, time, who you spoke with, and essential conversation highlights. You may be wondering why I’m asking you to keep a log of your attempts to contact your friend. If something more sinister has happened, a false return was filed on your behalf, and you have been a victim of identity theft, the IRS and police may need to know the steps you took to contact your friend.

Since it seems like you have been trying to resolve this matter for several months, you don’t want to wait too long to hear back from your friend once you attempt to contact her one last time. The goal is to be as proactive as possible, so while waiting a day or two for your friend to respond, we recommend logging onto the IRS’s website and requesting a couple of different transcripts of your account. The IRS has several different types of transcripts available to taxpayers, including:

 

  • Tax Return Transcript: This transcript shows most line items reported on an individual income tax return, Form 1040. This transcript is available online for the current and three prior tax years. Additionally, this transcript may be accessed by filling out and submitting Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return, or requesting the transcript by phone.
     
  • Tax Account Transcript: This transcript provides the taxpayer with basic data regarding their submitted income tax return, such as filing status, taxable income, and payments. Any changes made to the tax return (these are called amendments), will also be reported on this transcript. This transcript is available for the current and nine prior tax years. The current and prior three years can be accessed by filing Form 4506-T or by requesting the transcript(s) by phone.
     
  • Record of Account Transcript: This transcript shows a combination of the information provided in the Tax Return Transcript and Tax Account Transcript. The transcript is available for the current and prior three years online or by filing Form 4506-T.
     
  • Wage and Income Transcript: This transcript shows what information returns the IRS received from third parties. Information returns include Form W-2, Form 1099-NEC and other types of Form 1099, and Form 5498, IRA Contribution Information. This transcript is especially helpful if a taxpayer lost or never received their Forms W-2s or 1099s. As with the Tax Account Transcript, the Wage and Income Transcript is available after May for the current tax filing year and nine prior tax years. It is also available by submitting Form 4506-T.
     
  • Verification of Non-filing Letter: This is an important document as it confirms whether the IRS has a record of a submitted and processed Form 1040 by the taxpayer. Usually, this letter is available after June 15 for the current tax filing year or anytime for the prior three years. This letter is available online or by submitting Form 4506-T.

 

Keep in mind that transcripts are not copies of filed tax returns. A copy of the filed return is available by filling out and submitting Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return. If you prefer to request the transcripts by phone, the request can be made by calling 800-908-9946.

The fastest way to receive the above transcripts is by requesting them online. However, to access these transcripts online, you will need to have an established online account and have access to your IRS username or have an ID.me account. One can be set up if you don’t already have an online account. You will need to have a valid photo ID available when you sign-up. Click here to sign in to your account or create a new one.

If you discover a return was submitted fraudulently for the year in question, you will want to take the following steps as soon as possible:

 

  • Fill out and submit Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, to the IRS as soon as possible. If you submit the form by mail, make sure to mail the affidavit via certified mail with a return receipt request. Also, make sure to photocopy the completed form for your records.
     
  • Log onto IdentityTheft.gov and follow the steps listed. The Federal Trade Commission hosts the IdentityTheft.gov website.


In addition to the IRS’s Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft webpage, the IRS has published Publication 5027, Identity Theft Information for Taxpayers, and Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers. If your friend is a licensed tax professional, you may want to review the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Tax Return Preparer Fraud webpage, which includes valuable information, actions you can take, and other resources, including your rights as a taxpayer. This webpage includes information on how you can report a licensed tax professional to the IRS if it turns out your friend committed return preparer fraud or some other misconduct. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent office within the IRS that assists taxpayers with federal tax issues that have not been resolved through traditional channels.

If you are having difficulties contacting the IRS, you may consider hiring a licensed tax professional with a background in taxpayer identity theft. Although this option may cost more than doing the legwork yourself, it may be worth it, depending on your situation. The IRS has a webpage with tips on choosing a tax professional that is right for you. Remember, dealing with tax and identity theft is like running a marathon instead of a sprint. Unfortunately, it may take just a moment to become one of the millions of taxpayers who have experienced identity and tax theft, but it may take months to resolve what was done. It can help to focus on only one step at a time instead of looking at all that needs to be done. We hope the information above gives you the information you need to begin your journey.

Wishing you financial security and many happy returns,
Jean Lee Scherkey, EA

SEARCH

 

Jean Lee Scherkey, EA
Learning Content Developer

 

Jean Lee Scherkey began her career at TaxAudit in 2015, and her current title is Learning Content Developer. She became an Enrolled Agent in 2005. For several years, Jean owned a successful tax practice that specialized in individual, California and trust taxation, and assisting those impacted by tax identity theft. With over fifteen years of varied experience in the field of taxation, Jean has worked at different private tax firms as a Staff Practitioner, Tax Analyst, and Researcher. Before coming to TaxAudit, she worked over two years for TurboTax as an “Ask the Tax Expert.” In addition to her work in TaxAudit’s Learning and Development Department, Jean is actively involved in the company’s ENGAGE Volunteer Program, which provides opportunities for employees to help and serve the local community.  


 

Recent Articles

IRS check with money surrounding it and 1040 form
A large tax refund alone will not necessarily generate a tax audit, but if the reason why you received a large refund is questionable the IRS may peek closely.
Woman Reading Letter
Taxpayers receive an IRS CP503 because they have an unpaid tax debt. This is the 2nd notice the IRS sends taxpayers that they have an outstanding balance due.
woman helping elderly woman
You can likely deduct your out-of-pocket assisted living expenses on your Form 1040 tax return. But, as always, there are some conditions that have to be met.
Father sitting on a couch next to adult son looking at a tablet
As with most tax questions, the answer to this question can be a little complicated. Dependent adult children will fall into one of two categories.
This blog does not provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. The content on this blog is “as is” and carries no warranties. TaxAudit does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the content of this blog. Content may become out of date as tax laws change. TaxAudit may, but has no obligation to monitor or respond to comments.