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Businesses can also be disrupted by tax identity theft

Posted by Matt Evans Posted on Sept 20 2016

A great deal of attention is paid to individual tax identity theft — when a taxpayer’s personal information (including Social Security number) is used to fraudulently obtain a refund or commit other crimes. But businesses can also be victims of tax identity theft.

Significant consequences

Business tax identity theft occurs when a criminal uses the identifying information of a business, without permission, to obtain tax benefits or to enable individual identity theft schemes. For example, a thief could use an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and file a fraudulent business tax return to claim a refund or refundable tax credits. Or a fraudster may report income and withholding for fake employees on false W-2 forms. Then, he or she can file fraudulent individual tax returns for the “employees” to claim refunds.

In many cases, businesses don’t even know their information has been stolen until they’re contacted by the IRS. The consequences can include significant dollar amounts, lost time sorting out the mess and damage to your reputation.

Signs your business could be a victim

There are some red flags that indicate possible tax identity theft. For example, your business’s identity may have been compromised if you receive:


  • A notice from the IRS about fictitious employees.
  • An IRS letter stating that more than one tax return has been filed in your business name.
  • A notice from the IRS that you have a balance due when you haven’t yet filed a return.

Steps to take

If you receive a letter or notice from the IRS that leads you to believe someone fraudulently has used your business EIN, respond immediately to the contact information provided. Contact us for more information about how to proceed.

© 2016

This blog is published to provide you with an informative summary of current business, financial, and tax planning opportunities.  Do not apply this general information to your specific situation without additional details.  Be aware that the tax laws contain varying effective dates and numerous limitations and exceptions that can not be summarized easily.  For details and guidance in applying the tax rules to your specific circumstances, please contact us.