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Last Updated: 3/15/2017

Tax Refund Fraud FAQs

What does identity theft have to do with tax refunds?

Identity theft occurs when your personal information, (i.e. name, Social Security number, address, etc.) is taken and used without permission to commit crimes or fraud.

A criminal who has access to your personal information may use it to file a return in your name in an attempt to steal your refund.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue and the IRS have recently warned of an increase in scams including sending emails, text messages, and calling over-the-phone to phish for information, tricking taxpayers into giving criminals personal information needed to commit identity fraud such as filing a tax return in your name. A recent example of scams targeting taxpayer information can be found by reading our press release on a W-2 scam targeting businesses and their employees.

Why might my refund be taking longer to process this year than last (or a prior year)?

With the increase in scams and stolen personal information, the department is taking the time necessary to make sure the right refund goes to the right taxpayer.  Each tax return is different and the department reviews every return to verify the information on the return. In this environment of identity theft and fraud, no return can be considered simple.

The length of time to process a return can differ from year to year. 

I got my return sooner last year compared to this year, nothing has changed on my return. Why is that?

Making sure we issue the right refund to the right taxpayer takes time. The length it takes to process a return can differ from year to year. The number of returns that need to be processed, the review that needs to take place, and the number of returns that need to be manually reviewed all play into the time it takes to process a return. No return can be considered simple and different variables from year to year make it impossible to compare the time it takes to get your refund from one year to another.

Why doesn’t the Minnesota Department of Revenue give a timeframe on the Where’s My Refund? system? 

Because every return we receive is different, processing time will vary and estimated timeframes we were giving were subject to change.   Using Where’s My Refund?, you can follow your return through our process with a new status bar. When we are finished, you will see the date your refund was sent.  

What can I do to protect myself against identity theft?

How to protect yourself from identity theft:

What to do if you think your identity has been stolen:

If you are victim of identity theft, you may be able to have an ID Theft flag on your MN driver's license

If you think your identity has been stolen and someone has used it inappropriately for tax purposes:

  • Call the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-296-3781 or 1-800-652-9094, and
  • Call the IRS’s Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490

Learn more about scams, steps to prevent identity theft, and the department’s fraud prevention efforts on our website