Identify verification quizzes, used frequently by states to reduce submissions of fraudulent tax returns, generally consist of four multiple choice questions about personal aspects of the respondent's life. States develop the questions using both current and historical information available from public and commercial databases. Typical questions include asking a respondent to select his correct residential address in a specific year or to identify the year and location of his first car purchase; three correct answers are sufficient to establish identity.
An opportunity to provide additional written documentation, such as driver's license and original social security card, is available to those who initially fail the quiz.
When a state identifies a tax return and refund request as questionable, the primary taxpayer identified on the return is contacted. The quiz is touted as a means to avoid time-consuming submission of identification documents. Typically completed online, quizzes are timed and available only during a specified time frame. In Ohio, respondents have 60 days within which to take the quiz and five minutes to complete it online. As of February 2015, of the 280,000 Ohio taxpayers required to take the quiz, 28,000 failed. States withhold payment of tax refunds until the taxpayer passes the identity verification quiz or, having failed, submits the required documentation.
As of 2015, Massachusetts, Georgia, Louisiana and Wisconsin are among other states that require some taxpayers to complete this type of identity verification process.