I have lived in California since early 2007, however someone filed a federal tax return for 2013 tax year using my name and SSN, and previous OH address. I'm on SSDI and I wouldn't have filed a return; I never would have known one was filed....until I received a letter from a collection agency authorized by the Ohio AG to collect on a tax lien. This apparently resulted from the shyster who filed the federal return failed to file an Ohio return.
My questions are:
- Can this occur without the Court being involved? (I checked the Franklin County Municipal Court and Common Pleas online and there's no record of it).
- Are they (Ohio AG or Ohio Dept of Taxation) required to provide me documentation so I can contest this? (What I'm thinking of here is the same kind of info/proof as if this were an FCRA dispute.)
- Is there a way to request detailed information relating to when, where, and how the return was filed and by whom completed it(individual or tax preparer), and if the refund was sent by direct deposit or check? Or better a copy of the actual return, for free, as this is basically identity theft? Remember I'm on SSDI so $50-75 for the return is not feasible.
If you would like to get a copy of your federal tax return, you can request it from the IRS by filling out and mailing in Form 4506 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf). There is a fee to get a copy of the actual return filed. You could also request a FREE transcript of the return on the IRS's website, but that only is a summary of the information on the return and not a copy of what was actually filed, so it won't show a signature. I would also suggest requesting an account transcript (different from a return transcript) from the IRS. The account transcript and return transcript can be requested on the IRS's website at https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript or, if the 2013 tax year is not available, by mailing or faxing IRS Form 4506-T to the IRS. The account transcript will show you when the return was received by the IRS, processed by the IRS, etc. (contact a tax professional to figure out how to read an account transcript).
On that note, if someone filed a fraudulent return for you, odds are you wouldn't be able to find out who it is just by looking at the tax return. Doubtful that they signed it with their own name. They likely filed it to claim a tax refund, and, sadly, probably were mailed a refund check by the IRS and cashed it.
You should notify the IRS of the fraudulent return being filed. The IRS's website has information on how to do this; https://www.irs.gov/Help-&-Resources/Tools-&-FAQs/FAQs-for-Individuals/Frequently-Asked-Tax-Questions-&-Answers/IRS-Procedures/Reporting-Fraud/Reporting-Fraud. Once you do this, you should be assigned a contact in the IRS, and he or she may be able to get you a copy of the return for free.
As to Ohio, presumably Ohio did contact you relative to your non-filing for 2013. That said, though, the state probably sent notices to the last address it had on file for you--the address on the federal tax return for 2013. So you probably would not have even received them.
Although I am not familiar with Ohio's taxing authority, you should be able to get information from the state about what action was taken on your account, copies of correspondence that was purportedly sent to you, etc. The state may also have a mechanism for reporting the fraud/identity theft. It may even be possible to contact the attorney general's office and ask them to get involved.
If the Ohio AG's office is coming after you, likely there was some sort of court involvement at some point (maybe to reduce the tax assessment to a judgment). Unfortunately, if you don't want this to mar your record, you may need to contact the court at some point.
If you are low-income, you may qualify for low-income taxpayer assistance: https://www.irs.gov/Advocate/Low-Income-Taxpayer-Clinics/Low-Income-Taxpayer-Clinic-Income-Eligibility-Guidelines
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I am an attorney licensed in Ohio and actually live in Franklin County. Off the top of my head, I am not sure the best course of action. We should be able to provide the Ohio Department of Taxation facts that will cause them to stop their collections efforts against you. Not sure how difficult this will be, but if you are interested I will represent you in this matter free of charge.
Kenneth A McKee LL.M Taxation
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