How to Recover a Tax E-File PIN

E-filing opens a window to fraud.

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The IRS made a drastic change to its filing pin system in 2016. For that reason, IRS pin lookup and recovery is no longer possible for e-filing.

The E-Filing Pin Demise

Due to widespread fraud, elimination of the IRS electronic filing pin was planned for assessment at the end of 2016. However, the IRS found that cybercriminals had stolen data and unleashed a bot attack by which they accessed more than 100,000 e-file pins. Fortunately, the cyberattack only revealed e-filing pin numbers, not other data regarding affected taxpayers. The cybercriminals did have taxpayer information on the targeted accounts, such as names and addresses, Social Security numbers, filing status and birth dates, but the IRS contends that information was obtained from other sources, not the e-file pin tool.

For this reason, the IRS decided to eliminate the e-file pin in mid-June 2016. At the time, the agency noted that ending the e-file pin affected only a small number of taxpayers who had not filed their 2015 returns as of June 2016 and required a replacement e-file pin.

Your New Electronic Filing Number

Instead of using an e-filing pin, taxpayers who prepare their own tax returns must sign and validate their electronic tax return by using their previous year’s adjusted gross income total in lieu of a filing pin. For tax years 2017 and prior, you’ll find your last year's adjusted gross income on line 37 of Form 1040, on line 21 of Form 1040A and on line 4 of Form 1040EZ. For 2018 and beyond, you'll find the adjusted gross income on line 7 of the new 1040. If you previously used tax preparation software, you should find that your adjusted gross income is automatically entered. It is only when you are initially using such software that you must enter your prior adjusted gross income manually.

Identity Protection Pins

IRS pin number recovery was not limited to the e-filing pin. An identity protection pin is a six-digit number assigned to taxpayers to prevent Social Security misuse. With the identity protection pin, cybercriminals should not be able to discover your Social Security number and file a false tax return with it. Those receiving an identity protection pin number will receive a CPO1A notice from the IRS, but you can also opt for such a number. You can retrieve your identity protection pin number online.

Keep in mind that once you obtain an identity protection pin number, you must use it on all federal tax returns going forward. If you file without the identity protection pin number, your electronic return will be rejected and a paper return is subject to additional scrutiny, which could set back the date on which you receive a refund. If you can’t access your identity protection pin online, call the IRS at 800-908-4490, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to have the identity protection pin number reissued.