Smile! New IRS identity verification process requires a selfie

The IRS uses ID.me to help verify taxpayer’s identity

Jan 31, 2022
#
Business tax Tax controversy

Individuals logging into their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accounts for the first time this tax season may be surprised to find a new request: identity verification using ID.me, a ‘trusted technology provider’ to the IRS. Soon individuals who use IRS.gov online resources may be required to use ID.me technology to verify their identity. The services that may require verification by ID.me include online payments, view and print tax records (i.e., online tax transcripts), manage online authorization request from tax professionals, apply for payment plans and request Identity Protection PINs. Originally, the IRS was using ID.me only for child tax credit tools but is expanding to other online resources. 

What is ID.me?

ID.me is an identity verification service used by the IRS. The service uses face match technology that is similar to the technology used to unlock a smartphone. 

What do users need to verify their identity?

  1. Email address
  2. Social security number
  3. Photo ID (Driver’s License, Passport, Passport Card or State ID)
  4. Mobile phone with camera
  5. Laptop or computer with a webcam (optional)

How long will this process take to set up?

Without connectivity or other technology issues it should take taxpayers about 10-20 minutes to complete the process. To shorten the time of a successful verification, users should make sure they have the items listed above ready and available before beginning. Users should consider verifying their identity with ID.me now to avoid delays when it is necessary to use the IRS’ online tools and resources. After the initial verification, users can log-in using two-factor authentication through ID.me. No more ‘selfies’ will be required. 

In general, what are the steps to complete the process?

The ID.me support website lists out a step-by-step guide to aid in verifying the users’ identity for the IRS. The steps include uploading pictures of the front and back of your identification document and scanning your face with the phone’s camera. 

What if users run into issues during the set-up process?

The ID.me service offers video chat with an ID.me support person who can help with verification via video call. There is also a 24/7 help desk support. 

What if a user does not want to use ID.me?

Using ID.me to verify a user’s identity will only be required to access the IRS’ online resources. Taxpayers can still access various IRS resources by mail or phone. For now, users with an existing IRS.gov account can continue to sign in with an existing IRS username, but that is expected to change. Users wishing to create a new account must complete the ID.me identity verification process. 

What are the hesitations and backlash with the program?

Users may be concerned about data security and protection. According to the ID.me website, data security is its top priority. The company states that it does not share information with third parties without its members’ explicit permission and does not sell, lease or trade Biometric Data to any third parties or derive any profit from the sale, lease or trade of Biometric Data. Any information that is provided is encrypted and handled according to federal guidelines, which might include sharing information for law enforcement.

The added identity verification to sign-in to the IRS website could be difficult for certain taxpayers due to lack of technological proficiency, lack of access to a device to be able to complete the steps or disabilities preventing the user from using this type of service. 

Takeaways

Users of IRS.gov should consider the pros and cons of creating an ID.me account and consult with their tax advisors on the process. 

RSM contributors