How to Get an IRS Pin Number if I Didn't File Taxes Last Year

Many taxpayers who are filing in 2020 after not having paid taxes in 2019 are scratching their heads over how to provide the IRS pin numbers that are being requested on their returns. Can you get an IRS PIN if you didn't file taxes last year? The answer is that you can actually use a simple method to take care of this conundrum on your own.

As you may have noticed, it can be difficult to jump right in if you didn't file last year because the IRS uses a system that requires you to select one of two methods for logging in with a PIN. The first is to enter the previous year's PIN. The second is to enter your previous year's adjusted gross income (AGI) from your return to create a new PIN. Neither option works if you didn't file last year.

The good news is that there is a workaround. Take a look a how to get an IRS PIN number for your 2020 taxes if you didn't file taxes last year.

What Is an IRS PIN?

An IRS Self-Select PIN (Personal Identification Number) is a five-digit​ number that serves as your electronic signature on your tax return. This is an option that's available to you if you're signing your Form 1040 or Form 4868 electronically. The IRS also offers something called the IP PIN to help you confirm your identity if you're a confirmed victim of identity theft. This is a ​six-digit​ number that is different from the IRS Self-Select PIN.

Creating Your New IRS PIN When You Didn't File Last Year

You may be stopped in your tracks when the IRS asks you to supply the previous year's adjusted gross income (AGI) as part of the verification process. However, there is a very simple workaround. Simply enter ​"0"​ as your AGI total for the previous year in whatever software or website portal you're using to file your return. If you didn't file last year, this is technically the number that you earned in the IRS's records.

It's very important to enter that "0" number value into the AGI field. If you leave it blank, your return will be rejected. However, you do need to make sure that the field for the previous year's PIN is blank.

Special Considerations for Taxpayers 16 and Under

If you're filing a return for the first time as someone who is ​16 or younger​, the simple trick of using ​"0"​ for your AGI isn't going to work. That's because the IRS won't allow you to file your return electronically. You must actually file a paper return this time around.

The Good News About Next Year

A case of a missing PIN is only a problem in the year after a year when you didn't have to file. If you file a tax return for 2020, you won't run into this problem again when doing your 2021 taxes in 2022. Just make sure you're keeping your tax records in an accessible location to ensure that you can plug in 2020's AGI to easily get started with your return next year.