As a first-time tax return filer, the chances are quite high that you have many questions about this seemingly complex process. Given the intricacies of tax filing, combined with the threat of fines and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service that send many tax filers scrambling for the nearest accountant, successfully completing a tax return for the first time can be daunting. However, with a logical, task-driven approach, you can quickly begin working on your tax return and make sure that your first-time taxpayer experience goes as smoothly as possible. The first thing you will need to do is obtain your PIN, which is available through the IRS website as well as through any tax preparation service you may be using.
Obtaining Your PIN
The IRS website offers every first-time taxpayer (as well as taxpayers who have lost their PIN previously) the ability to obtain a new PIN. The Identity Protection PIN, or IP PIN, is absolutely necessary when filing your tax return. Failure to obtain a PIN will make you ineligible to file your tax return. After successfully passing an identity verification process, the IRS will assign you, the first-time taxpayer, a tax return PIN number that will be compatible with all of your tax returns moving forward.
Alternative Methods for Obtaining Your PIN
If you are filing your taxes through an online tax preparation service, the chances are good that you will have the option to create your tax filing IP PIN through their platform. This tax return PIN number will not be exclusive to the preparation service you are using. For example, if you choose to switch to a different filing service in the following years, your PIN will still be valid.
Regardless of which method you use to create your PIN, it is essential that you keep this number safe and secure. Since the IRS considers your tax return PIN number a credible means for verifying your identity, an individual may be able to file a false tax return under your name if they obtain a copy of your PIN. As a first-time taxpayer, you may be tempted to seek assistance on your tax return. Be wary of disclosing your PIN to anyone who you do not trust completely.
Your PIN and 2018 Filing Status
Once you have obtained your PIN, you will be able to complete your taxes without having to repeat this process. With your PIN, you should be able to unlock all of the standard income reporting forms, including the widely used IRS Form 1099. As a general rule, you should keep your PIN on hand throughout the filing process in the event that you need to submit it again at any point during the process.
2017 Tax Filing Rules
If you were a first-time taxpayer in 2017, you probably noticed that the rules surrounding PIN numbers have not changed. This form of identity verification will likely remain an integral part of the filing process for years to come.
- Self-selected PINs can't be issued to first-time filers under age 16. A first-time filer who is younger than 16 must file a paper return or allow a paid tax professional to select an electronic filing PIN on his behalf.
Ryan Cockerham is a nationally recognized author specializing in all things business and finance. His work has served the business, nonprofit and political community. Ryan's work has been featured on PocketSense, Zacks Investment Research, SFGate Home Guides, Bloomberg, HuffPost and more.