What does it mean if I received a 5071C letter?

by Megan Hiles
Photo of a bunch of shredded paper, and in the foreground, a half-shredded sheet of paper says "Identity Theft"

Blog updated March 2022

Scammers continue to be busy in 2022. The IRS is working diligently to identify fraud attempts as quickly as possible, so if you receive a 5071C letter, you may have steps you need to complete in order for your tax return to be filed.

What is a 5071C letter?

The IRS sends a 5071C letter when it receives a tax return with your name and tax identification number, but believes the return to be fraudulent. A Letter 5071C will ask you to complete an online identity verification process to confirm your identity.

If you haven’t filed and you received a 5071C letter, someone may have filed a fraudulent tax return using your name and Social Security Number or Individual Identification Number. It’s extremely important that you verify your identity and confirm that you may be a victim of identity theft so any further fraud attempts are stopped.

If you have filed and received a 5071C letter, the IRS may need more information from you to process your return, issue a refund or apply the overpayment to your next year’s estimated tax.

I received a letter. Now what?

It is imperative that you verify your identity with the IRS. You can either do so online or by calling.

To verify your identity online, click here to access the IRS Identity Verification Service. You will need to register to the website before you can verify your identity. This secure service is available 24 hours a day. Have the 5071C letter you received and a copy of the tax return listed in the letter. If you haven’t yet filed your income tax return, you’ll be able to indicate that on the site.

If you’d rather speak with an IRS representative directly, you can call the toll-free number listed on your 5071C letter. The IRS is experiencing higher than normal call volume. We recommend calling first thing in the morning or about a half hour before they close. If they are unable to verify your identity over the phone or online, the IRS might ask you to schedule an appointment at a local office to verify your identity in person.

Regardless if you call or go online to verify your identity, you’ll need to collect the following items:

Your personal account number from a:

  • Credit card
  • Mortgage
  • Student loan
  • Home equity loan or home equity line of credit
  • Car loan
  • A mobile phone associated with your name
  • Your 5071C letter, 5747C letter, 5447C letter, or 6331C letter
  • The income tax return (form 1040,1040-PR, 1040-NR, 1040-SR, etc.) for the year shown on the letter
    • Note: A Form W-2 or 1099 is not an income tax return
  • Supporting documents that you filed with each year’s tax return. (Form W-2, Form 1099, Schedule C or F, etc.).
  • Your mailing address from your previous year’s tax return

I verified my identity. What’s the next step?

After successfully verifying your identity either online or over the phone, the IRS will process your return, if you filed. If there are any other issues, you will be contacted again.

What if I don’t verify my identity?

If you don’t call or go online to verify your identity with the IRS, the IRS will be unable to process your return, issue refunds or credit any overpayments.