It’s happened to 3 of my clients this year, most of them physicians. I go to efile their returns and get a message back that their return has already been submitted to the IRS (and someone else has already received that refund). Tax fraud is the #1 form of identity theft in the US, or at least it was until the recent Equifax breach. The IRS estimates that it paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulent refunds in 2013, the last year for which we have figures.
If you have been a victim, the first thing to do is call the IRS department which deals with identity theft. As the IRS only has 25 agents nationwide to investigate this, you may have a trying time. One person told me that he was on the phone for 3 hours before he spoke with an agent. They will try to get you to prove that you did not receive the refund — try proving a double negative, folks. You will then have to paper file your return and wait. The average claim in these cases takes 278 days to resolve. You will get a special pin number for use in efiling next year’s return, but the current year tax return is a study in frustration.