Include your SS number on your IRS check???

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Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby rich137 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:18 am

For the first time this year my accountant’s written instructions included the words “include your social security number, daytime phone number and the words ‘2009 form 1040’ on your check".

Is this something new? Do I really want to include my social security number on my check???

Thanks,

Rich
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Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby YDNAL » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:43 am

rich137 wrote:Is this something new? Do I really want to include my social security number on my check???
Isn't the check attached to Form 1040 that already has your SS number? I don't see the harm there.

The one issue you may have is with the bank employee - somewhere in the back office - processing your check for payment. Do they have access to SS numbers?.... I don't know.

Anyone else that wants to do something illegal - including postal employees - would have access to the tax return inside the envelope.
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Postby etarini » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:44 am

This is not a new request. The general instructions for the 2009 1040 say:

To pay by check or money order. Make your check or money order payable to the your check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury” for the full amount due. Do not send cash. Do not attach the payment to your return. Write “2009 Form 1040” and your name, address, daytime phone number, and social security number (SSN) on your payment. If you are filing a joint return, enter the SSN shown first on your tax return.


I only have .pdf's of IRS forms and instructions going back to 2000, but it says the same thing in the 2000 1040 instructions.

One could argue that only the government has a legitimate reason to use your Social Security number.

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Re: Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby Ron » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:50 am

rich137 wrote:...my accountant’s written instructions included the words “include your social security number, daytime phone number and the words ‘2009 form 1040’ on your check".

So enter your accountant's info :lol:

Seriously, your info is on the tax return already. You may be concerned about "back office activities" but I don't believe that there is any ulterior motive in their request.

I worked in a company whose customers were asked for the same info (since their SS number was also used as a policy identifier at that time, many years ago).

Since the mail was opened and the check and billing notice were opened and the documents went different directions (the check to the A/R department to be deposited to the bank immediately, the billing notice to billing, where it went through data entry to update the account) it was to ensure that all "credits" were properly made, and nobody was mis-billed.

I understand your concern with today (30 years after I worked there). For me, I would simply send in the check without the info. If the IRS folks really need the info, I'm sure they would transcribe the info on your check on their end (which I have seen done in the past).

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Postby Sheepdog » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:07 am

This is not a new request. It has been there for decades. It is requested because paperwork and checks can become separated. I used to add the entire SS number, but in the last 10 years or so I add in the memo field only the last 4 digits of my SS number this way --- -- 1234.
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Re: Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby HueyLD » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:13 am

rich137 wrote:For the first time this year my accountant’s written instructions included the words “include your social security number, daytime phone number and the words ‘2009 form 1040’ on your check".

Is this something new? Do I really want to include my social security number on my check???

If you e-file, you could've chosen the "direct debit" option and thus no checks to mail. For some reason, lots of people have problems with direct debits even though they have no problems with direct deposits. The typical answer I received from those who refused the direct debit option was: "I don't want the government to know my bank account info." Well, the government already knows your bank account information.

As to your question, you are NOT required to put your SSN on the check.
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Postby rich137 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 11:52 am

Thanks for the feedback.

What concerns me is the fact that my check also has my name and address printed on it. It just seems like way to much information to be on a check that needs to clear.

Sheepdog wrote:I used to add the entire SS number, but in the last 10 years or so I add in the memo field only the last 4 digits of my SS number this way --- -- 1234.


I think I will follow sheepdog’s lead and just include the last 4 digits of my SSN.

Thanks for your help.
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Postby scrabbler1 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:23 pm

Sheepdog wrote:This is not a new request. It has been there for decades. It is requested because paperwork and checks can become separated. I used to add the entire SS number, but in the last 10 years or so I add in the memo field only the last 4 digits of my SS number this way --- -- 1234.


You can do this? I have been for a while doing something like this for my credit card payments, writing "Card Number Ending in xxxx" in the memo line. I would be delighted to know I can do this for my tax returns, although it comes a few days too late to help me this year because I mailed my returns last Thursday.

To the OP's question, I wrote my SSN on the check which went with my first tax return I ever filed (1985 taxes, I still have it).
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Postby namaste » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:35 pm

I just got back the cleared check from the feds for taxes I paid and in a stamp on the back, you can clear see my SS#. I don't think not writing on the front makes any difference.
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Postby rich137 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:43 pm

namaste wrote:I just got back the cleared check from the feds for taxes I paid and in a stamp on the back, you can clear see my SS#. I don't think not writing on the front makes any difference.


Good to know, but to me it doesn't make much sense security wise.
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Postby jsl11 » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:51 pm

The IRS also wants the same info on checks used to pay estimated income taxes quarterly.

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Re: Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby grabiner » Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:45 pm

rich137 wrote:For the first time this year my accountant’s written instructions included the words “include your social security number, daytime phone number and the words ‘2009 form 1040’ on your check".

Is this something new? Do I really want to include my social security number on my check???


It makes it more likely that the IRS will process the payment correctly. Even with my SS# on the check, I once had a state cash my estimated tax payment and not credit the payment to my taxes; my state refund for the year was held up until I got a copy of the check from my bank.
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Postby johnjtaylorus » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:08 am

You may wish to reconsider having your address printed on checks.

The first 3 digits of the SSN relate to the area in which it was issued and, if you haven't moved, are available.
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Postby futureman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:16 am

They ask because it saves them money (at least it did a while back) so that when the check is accidentally separated from the documents early in their processing, that they can easily link it in their systems. The more checks that they get that go through this exception process that do not have the SS on them, the longer they need to spend linking it through other means such as the name, phone number, address, or checking account number.
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Postby BigRig » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:42 am

The government offers contradicting advice when it comes to protecting your SSN.

The FTC warns against it:
"Protect your Social Security number

Don't carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check."

I'm sure if you send it in without your soc, the IRS will still be more than happy to cash it.
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Postby dm200 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:44 am

I'm sure if you send it in without your soc, the IRS will still be more than happy to cash it.


BUT - they might not credit it to the correct account :(
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Re: Include your SS number on your IRS check???

Postby scrabbler1 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:20 am

grabiner wrote:It makes it more likely that the IRS will process the payment correctly. Even with my SS# on the check, I once had a state cash my estimated tax payment and not credit the payment to my taxes; my state refund for the year was held up until I got a copy of the check from my bank.


I had a similar thing happen to me in 2004. A state credited my tax payment to the wrong taxpayer ID (not SSN) number and sent me a bill for the outstanding balance 3 months after they had cashed my check. Back then, I will still receiving my cancelled checks so this was easy to figure out (and see the ID # they used by mistake - it was not printed very dark). One phone call got this straightened out and that was it.
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Postby CAP » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am

I never put my phone number nor my SS number on my check to the IRS. I put both on a bank money envelope cut in half & place the check inside of it. Have never had any problems with not getting credit as my name & P. O Box are on the check & my Form 1040 if they need a reference.
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Postby nisiprius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:55 pm

Goodness, no, this requirement is not new. I think I've been doing it for as long as I've filed taxes, certainly for decades.

Perhaps they are mentioning it more prominently for some reason? It doesn't bother me: the Social Security Agency and the IRS are actually the only two entities that I feel are legitimately entitled to ask for it.

I don't see much risk in it. The chances of bad guys intercepting the check itself or its image wouldn't seem to be too high.

On the other hand, I feel it is very very very much in my interests to avoid help large busy overworked bureaucracies avoid clerical mistakes.
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Postby Jack » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:36 pm

nisiprius wrote:the Social Security Agency and the IRS are actually the only two entities that I feel are legitimately entitled to ask for it.

Not your employer who credits your Social Security account and federal withholding? Not your bank or mutual fund or broker who sends you 1099s for dividends? Not your state which withholds state income taxes or pays workers compensation or unemployment insurance? Do you wish to remain anonymous for all of these purposes?
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Postby Avo » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:30 pm

I have never put my SS# on my check to the IRS, and have never had a problem. I recognize that this practice slightly increases the chance of a screw-up, but I view that as much less dangerous than the potential of ID theft by someone who can access the check or its image.

I did not realize that the IRS stamped checks with the SS#. I will have to check this for past years.
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Postby Random Musings » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:36 pm

I echo Avo's response - never have done it, never a problem.

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Postby nisiprius » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:16 pm

Jack wrote:
nisiprius wrote:the Social Security Agency and the IRS are actually the only two entities that I feel are legitimately entitled to ask for it.
Not your employer who credits your Social Security account and federal withholding? Not your bank or mutual fund or broker who sends you 1099s for dividends? Not your state which withholds state income taxes or pays workers compensation or unemployment insurance?
You're right. If they're supplying tax-related information to the IRS they have a reason good reason to have my "taxpayer ID number" and if they're supplying it to the SSA they good have a reason to have my Social Security number.

(And just to be clear, I'm a realist (read wimp). I've already given my Social Security number to the Medical Information Bureau, the credit bureaus, the TSA, and numerous random nosey-parker entities. The only thing I do is whenever I'm asked for my Social Security number I will ask "do I really need to give it?" and if they say "yes," I say "ask your supervisor." And then the supervisor says "You don't need to give it but the emergency room doctor will not see you until you do"--yes, this literally happened--and I cave. Perhaps 1/3 of the time the supervisor says "Oh, OK, we can issue you a special number if you want.")
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Postby Jack » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:01 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Jack wrote:
nisiprius wrote:the Social Security Agency and the IRS are actually the only two entities that I feel are legitimately entitled to ask for it.
Not your employer who credits your Social Security account and federal withholding? Not your bank or mutual fund or broker who sends you 1099s for dividends? Not your state which withholds state income taxes or pays workers compensation or unemployment insurance?
You're right. If they're supplying tax-related information to the IRS they have a reason good reason to have my "taxpayer ID number" and if they're supplying it to the SSA they good have a reason to have my Social Security number.

(And just to be clear, I'm a realist (read wimp). I've already given my Social Security number to the Medical Information Bureau, the credit bureaus, the TSA, and numerous random nosey-parker entities. The only thing I do is whenever I'm asked for my Social Security number I will ask "do I really need to give it?" and if they say "yes," I say "ask your supervisor." And then the supervisor says "You don't need to give it but the emergency room doctor will not see you until you do"--yes, this literally happened--and I cave. Perhaps 1/3 of the time the supervisor says "Oh, OK, we can issue you a special number if you want.")

I agree with you. I don't supply my SSN unless necessary but it's not a big deal to me. The SSN has simply become a handy substitute for a nation identity card or number. The problem comes about when certain agencies use the SSN as if it were a security code or PIN to verify your identity when it isn't a secret number at all. Anyone could impersonate me with the last four digits that many company reps ask for. The SSN is a handy way of distinguishing they many people named Jack or nisiprius. Your SSN should be regarded as public information the same as your full name and middle initial to uniquely identify you. It should not be regarded as a security code. It is not a method for preventing fraud.
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Postby HockeyGuy » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:17 pm

I never write my SS number on any check for personal returns or even account numbers for paying bills and never had any problems.

I never write my employers identification number for my business return and have had no problems for 17 years of business.
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Postby HeatIndex » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:21 pm

Our clients write their SSN on their checks in the memo section, but I have noticed that the some of the 1099s we received this year have only the last 4 digits of their SSN. Maybe you can do that.
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Postby nomad » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:26 am

If someone wants your SSN, they can just buy it from Lexis Nexis.

SSNs were never meant to be sensitive info.. it's a shame they evolved into a sensitive piece of information.
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Do it

Postby dharrythomas » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:18 pm

The IRS is a large government organization. Fill out the check exactly the way they ask and they still may mess it up. I saw a check in the 70s, where they'd cashed it and the code on the back indicated that they hadn't credited it to an account. Of course it was up to the taxpayer to prove the error and that they'd already paid.

I also follow the instructions exactly on any checks I send to Vanguard. Always make is as easy as you can for people you're asking to handle your money, they are after all people. :)
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Postby mptfan » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:25 pm

nomad wrote:SSNs were never meant to be sensitive info..


Really? The social security act was passed in 1935, were you around back then? How do you know this?
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Check21 for everone else but the IRS

Postby Spirit Rider » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:35 pm

namaste wrote:I just got back the cleared check from the feds for taxes I paid and in a stamp on the back, you can clear see my SS#. I don't think not writing on the front makes any difference.
I would like to say this suprises me, It does not.

However, I was going to respond that having the ss# on the check should not be a problem because surely the IRS uses Check21 to process the check and no one outside the IRS would physically see the check. Especially, given the identity theft issues in returning a check with all identifying information. If it wasn't the IRS it probably would be a crime.

In this day in age, any enterprize of any size (reatailer, utility, etc...) utilizes Check21 to process their checks. Check21 allows any recipient to image the check and submit an ACH debit on the account. Improving cash flow, saving resources, reliminating the need to deposit large quanties of checks.

Of course what was I thinking. This is the US Government who takes the most inefficient, costly way to do anything. I mean it has only been more than 5 years that this process has been available.
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Postby nomad » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:28 am

mptfan wrote:
nomad wrote:SSNs were never meant to be sensitive info..


Really? The social security act was passed in 1935, were you around back then? How do you know this?

Translation: How do you know that the social security administration did not conspire Orwellian-style to see that your social security transactions are tied to your bank account, mobile phone records, academic scores, video rentals, loans, and property tax?

Sure, it's possible, but to make such an assumption would put you out on the fringe with some nutbag conspiracy theorists. Here down on earth, we believe the number was created simply as a primary key to one database - the database with social security records. A primary key used solely to reference a social security record is in itself hardly sensitive information.

Incompetent banks got the foolish idea that the social security number would be a good instrument to authenticate someones identity -- and consumers were foolish enough to accept this. This is in part why the number has become sensitive. Coupled with the fact that the US has no Data Protection Act.
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Postby sscritic » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:54 am

Doesn't anyone pay estimated taxes? Both my state and the IRS instruct me to write my social security number and (form)-ES 2010 on my check. With four payments each, that is 8 checks with my social security number on them.
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Postby Karl » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:37 am

I'll be 37 at month end and I'm not old enough to recall a time when the IRS didn't ask one to put their SS# on all checks. I would assume it's such that they can easily figure out who the check belongs to should it fall on the floor or such during processing. After all, if your name were John Harris, it may be a tad hard to ID who the check belongs to when that's one of the most common names possible. Sure, they could use the address on the check, but with how often people move that may not be up-to-date.

I certainly understand the desire for security. SS#s have effectively turned into national ID#s.
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