IRS Offers Optional Verification for Online Accounts

Users can authenticate new accounts with agent interview instead of ID.me selfie

Mature man with coffee mug standing in living room taking selfie with smartphone.
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If you want to sign up for an online account with the IRS but don’t want to give your facial recognition data to a third-party technology company, a new option is being offered—though it might come with a bit of a wait.

People creating an online account at irs.gov now have the choice of verifying their identity during a virtual interview with a live IRS agent instead of taking a selfie and relying on facial recognition provided by ID.me, a private company the government is contracting with, the IRS said Monday.

The agent interview option, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes and requires users to show two pieces of identification, will last through this year’s filing season while the IRS switches over to using login.gov, a government authentication tool used by other federal agencies. Using the agent interview option had a 43-minute wait on Tuesday around noon, while the automated ID.me facial recognition option had no wait time listed.

People who create online IRS accounts can make and view payments, electronically sign tax preparation documents, and access a wide variety of tax records, including information about their child tax credit payments and other data from recently filed returns. Creating an online account requires users to verify their identities, though, and until Monday, taxpayers had to use a facial recognition process provided by ID.me that required them to take a selfie. The IRS announced earlier in February that it planned to transition away from its controversial partnership with ID.me after critics raised concerns about data privacy.

The agency did not immediately answer questions about how the new workload imposed by the temporary system would affect its ability to get through the millions of tax returns it’s already behind on processing.

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  1. IRS. “IRS Statement — New Features Put in Place for IRS Online Account Registration; Process Strengthened To Ensure Privacy and Security | Internal Revenue Service.”

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