IRS Outsources Online Security to Private Company

Video selfies will be required for some online functions by this summer
By Stephanie Mojica,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2022 4:42 PM CST
IRS to Require Selfies for Some Online Functions
The IRS will soon require selfies to perform most online functions, according to CNBC.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The bane of some people’s existence, the Internal Revenue Service, is about to make life a little harder this summer. American taxpayers will be unable to perform most functions at IRS.gov without providing a video selfie to a private identity verification company, CNBC reports. Do not panic yet—this step will not be required to file taxes online or make digital payments. However, it will be required to view payment agreements, tax transcripts, or the Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

Users will be required to create an account with ID.me, which is not part of the IRS or any other government agency. Each online user will be required to provide a driver’s license, passport, or state ID as well as take a selfie using their computer or smartphone. This process will be required for existing and new IRS.gov users. Some media reports say people will be unable to pay or file their taxes, but a government spokesperson refutes this in a statement provided to CNBC: “The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company.” However, the third-party verification system will be required for checking the status of stimulus checks, setting up payment arrangements, and requesting PINs.

ID.me has been in business since 2010, per Krebs on Security, and has contracted with multiple state and federal government agencies. Lately, it's been used extensively to root out fraud related to pandemic aid. Some applicants for state unemployment benefits complain that ID.me’s technology delayed their payments for months, while others allege that all facial recognition software comes with privacy concerns and potential racism. If a user cannot verify their identity online, they will be required to verify their identity in a live video call with an ID.me employee. Taxpayers who do not wish to participate in this type of identity verification or do not have the required identity documents will need to perform functions such as requesting tax transcripts by mail. (Read more IRS stories.)

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