The IRS recently announced that identity thieves had accessed information about 100,000 taxpayers using the IRS online tax transcript retrieval tool. Because of this breach the IRS has closed off access to this feature on its website. A Tax Transcript provides a line by line break down of all the information from your tax return.
Filing for bankruptcy is a document intensive exercise. If you live in Southern Maryland and are filing for bankruptcy you will at least have to provide a copy of your most recently filed tax return to the Trustee assigned to your case. One Chapter 13 Trustee insists on seeing your 4 most recently filed tax returns. This means your State and Federal Returns. Along with these returns you also will need 60 days of pay stubs and a bank statement that shows how much money you had in the bank the day your case was filed.
If you have copies of your Tax Returns this breach shouldn’t impact you unless you were one of those 100,000 people whose transcripts were accessed. However if you don’t have a copy of your tax returns the recent IRS Security beach may cause you a problem.
Normally if you didn’t have a copy of your Federal tax returns the easy solution was to request a copy of tax transcript from the IRS website. Just go to irs.gov, answer some questions, and a copy of your transcript was on its way. This was easy to do, apparently too easy. Reports indicate that the identity thieves used personal information they had obtained from other sources to answer the security questions to access the tax transcripts. So the ease of use of this feature may have actually caused the breach that caused it to be shut down. The IRS Statement on this breach promises to notify anyone whose data was compromised and provide them with free credit monitoring.
To get a copy of a transcript of your Maryland tax returns you always needed to either mail or fax a form to request a copy of your transcript to the Comptroller of the Treasury. While having to do this used to seem like a pain, it now seems like a sensible security measure.
While you could always order your Federal transcripts by mail this could take a few weeks. Now that the online option isn’t available ordering you tax transcript by mail will almost certainly take even longer. Before delaying your filing to wait to get these tax transcripts to arrive in the mail you may want to think if there is another place to get a copy of your returns. If you used a tax preparation service you may want to check with them to see if they can provide you a copy. If you did your taxes on a computer yourself, see if you can print a copy. If you have been involved in a lawsuit or divorce the lawyer you used may have a copy of your tax return in their file. Or perhaps you gave a copy of your returns to a bank or lender when you applied for a loan. Since you don’t want to hold up the filing of your case, you may want to mail off the request for a transcript while you keep looking for a copy or your return.