How do I Prove my Identity to the IRS?

You’ve just filed your tax return and are waiting for your refund check. Instead you get a letter asking you to verify your identity.

Your first thought might be – am I in trouble? No, relax. It’s a very common letter. It’s typically sent when there’s a sizable tax refund and the IRS just wants to be sure the refund doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

How do you verify that you are – you?

First, gather your supporting documents

You’ll need to gather the following:

  • A copy of the 5071C Letter (the one that looks like the letter at the bottom of this page).
  • A copy of the tax return for the tax period shown in your letter.
  • A previous year’s income tax return, other than the year in the letter.
  • Supporting documents that you filed with each year’s tax return. (Form W-2, Form 1099, Schedule C of F, etc.)

Second, verify your identification

There are three ways to verify your identity.

1. Online ID verification

To use IRS’ online ID verification, head over to the identity verification service.

2. By phone

Call the phone number listed in the letter.

3. Visit your local IRS office

If the IRS can’t verify your identity over the phone or online, they may ask you to schedule an appointment at your local IRS office to verify your identity in person.

Third, wait for your return to process

After you’ve successfully verified your identification, the IRS will continue processing your return. It will take approximately nine weeks to process.

Sample Letter 5071C

Here’s what a Letter 5071 C looks like.

IRS Letter 5071C

4 thoughts on “How do I Prove my Identity to the IRS?”

  1. For Dakota- nice try with your “common sense” suggestions on how to verify ID. Didn’t realize the IRS in your opinion is seriously this stupid to allow people to send photo and/or copies of front and back of photo ID and pic of front and back of SS card. As you suggest- the “whole 9 yards”…..I mean for them to already send you a letter questioning your identity– do you really think only the “real” person has copies of their ID and SS card??? See the IRS is a federal government office- if they are questioning you to verify ID for your tax refund dear- they are NOT screwing around with you. I got a 5071c letter- as in you get two of your past years worth of tax returns, make sure you have at LEAST one type of financial account number for banking, loan, student loan etc, and better be able while on phone with them verify past tax return GAI’s, tell them what you selected as way to get refund, and verify past employers correctly listed on previous returns along with amount d0wn to the penny of federal withholding listed on w-2…this is just for STARTERS of what they ask you. You gotta be in your early 20’s and have parents do your taxes- most likely live at home and parents enable you constantly- you clearly have no idea how the real adult world works, and yet love to try and “help” others with common sense solutions that are anything but. Sorry if my honesty hurts your feelings, but did not come on this site like many others looking for the idiotic answer you gave. I need to figure out where my refund is since I do not have parents supporting me financially and have to pay real bills with real money. It’s called “the whole 9 yards of being an adult living in the real world”..Thank the teen mom generation for spawning children who are now “adults” trying to give advice we have to deal with or get to try to supervise them at a job where they don’t understand how to be responsible and have parent call them in sick or whine that we wrote their child up for not doing their job lol… awesome so many teen moms tried to raise children while being a child themselves and then grandparents took over- except not parenting- but regularly spoiling and feeling sorry for their first grandkid. There is very small percentage of teen moms who actually did their damn job- the rest of us in society who don’t have a kid named Dakota or offering some literally stupid suggestion on here thank you. Sorry about being named Dakota but definitely says the generation you were born and raised in. Smh.

    • My 81 year old Mother is going through this. She’s driving me crazy with her worry. She has NEVER had problems in the past with her returns. I’ve tried to use the online verification service to no avail (it’s confusing at best). i’ll try again tomorrow(for the THIRD time.
      Using the phone service is a bust also. They place her on hold for HOURS!

  2. Take a facial picture then picture of Id front and back and picture of social security card or birth certificate verify proof of address and verify security questions dob the whole 9


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