As tax refund fraud becomes more widespread, we’re enlisting the help of taxpayers, tax professionals, employers, and payroll providers to help prevent it.
How is Virginia Tax protecting taxpayers?
To make sure that refunds go to the rightful owners, we’re committed to taking the time needed to carefully review all individual income tax returns we receive.
Our Refund Review Process
We use an automated system that reviews returns for suspicious activity or possible fraud. If your return is selected for additional review, our Refund Review Team manually reviews the return and may send you a letter requesting additional information.
Last year, we requested additional information for 183,000 returns and denied or reduced the amount of 64,000 refunds. By verifying information on tax returns before issuing refunds, we prevented over $40 million in fraudulent or erroneous refunds from being issued.
If your return is selected for review, it will take longer to receive your refund. However, our goal is to stop fraudulent refunds before they’re issued, not to slow down your refund.
Other steps we're taking to protect taxpayers
- We issue personal identification numbers (PINs) to taxpayers identified as possible victims of identity theft. These PINs serve as another way to verify the taxpayer’s identity when they file their individual income tax returns.
- As refund tax fraud schemes grow more elaborate, we continue to coordinate with the IRS, other state tax departments, and the tax software industry to protect your personal information and reduce refund fraud
- Do not provide personal information by mail, phone, email, or text to an unknown person.
- File your tax return early - and file electronically.
- Include your Virginia driver’s license number or Virginia identification card number and issue date on your return.
- Watch for signs that an unauthorized person may have filed a return using your name or Social Security number:
- More than one tax return was filed using your Social Security number.
- You receive an unexpected assessment or notice indicating that you owe additional tax.
- You receive a federal or state tax refund that you didn’t request.
- You had collection actions taken against you that you didn’t expect, and the information doesn’t appear to be valid.
- The IRS notified you that a false federal return was filed.
- If you are a victim of identity theft, we suggest taking the following steps:
- Notify the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and your bank or credit union
- File a criminal complaint with your local police or sheriff’s department
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and for detailed checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.
- Call our Identity Theft Information line at 804.404.4185
- Use state and federal resources as needed – Attorney General of Virginia, IRS, and Federal Trade Commission
How can tax professionals help prevent refund fraud?
- Educate your clients. See IRS Publication 4524, Taxes. Security. Together., a 1-page flyer with basic tips for taxpayers – how to keep their computer secure, how to avoid phishing and malware, and how to protect their personal information.
- Review and update your security plan on a regular basis. See IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data which includes a helpful checklist for all aspects of security – facilities, personnel, information systems, and more.
- Notify us immediately if your records have been compromised.
How can employers and payroll providers help prevent refund fraud?
- File your withholding records electronically by January 31 every year. Virginia law allows us to tell taxpayers when we haven't received their withholding information from their employers.
- Store all taxpayer records securely.
- Notify us immediately if you think any payroll records have been compromised. Call our Identity Theft Information Line at 804.404.4185.