Identity thieves do not content themselves with just taking out credit cards in their victims' names. They also often file fraudulent tax returns for refund checks. A new IRS policy should help victims figure out what happened.
Imagine receiving a letter from the IRS that the tax return you filed could not be processed because one had already been filed under your name and Social Security number. This is an increasing problem for many people.
Identity thieves who are able to get some basic information about a person will rush to file a fraudulent tax return before the victim does in the hopes that the IRS will send a refund to the thief. The victim then has a mess to sort out and needs to figure out what happened. This can be exceedingly difficult for the victim and even more difficult for those filing returns on the behalf of others, such as executors and guardians.
In the past, the IRS has not helped matters too much as the victim was not able to get a copy of the fraudulent tax return. However, as reported by the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "IRS Will Now Offer A Copy Of Fraudulently Filed Tax Returns To Identity Theft Victims," the IRS has changed its policy.
Now victims and their authorized representatives can get a copy of the return, which should help in figuring out what happened. The fraudulent return will be redacted pursuant to federal privacy laws, but not to an extent that would make viewing the return worthless.
Of course, if you are a victim of this tax scam, you should not attempt to handle it on your own, especially if you are an executor or guardian. Seek the services of a professional to make sure that you are doing things correctly.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 30, 2015) "IRS Will Now Offer A Copy Of Fraudulently Filed Tax Returns To Identity Theft Victims"