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IRS to remove ID.me face scan verification for online accounts

The IRS announced today that it will stop using ID.me, a third-party service that uses facial scanning technology, as a requirement for taxpayers to set up IRS online accounts. "The transition will occur in the coming weeks to avoid further disruption to taxpayers during filing season," the IRS announcement said. “The IRS takes the privacy and security of taxpayers very seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Everyone needs to be comfortable with how their personal information is protected, and we're quickly looking at short-term options that don't involve facial recognition."






Last week, a group of Republican senators sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig expressing "serious concerns about how ID.me may affect confidential taxpayer information and fundamental civil liberties." Today, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged the IRS to stop using ID.me and instead transition to an existing government identity verification service, Login. gov, which does not use facial recognition technology. The IRS announcement says the announcement "does not interfere with a taxpayer's ability to file their return or pay taxes due." That is technically true. You do not need an IRS online account to file electronically or on paper. But the information in online accounts can be crucial for some taxpayers to ensure they file accurate tax returns and get their tax refunds quickly. That's because the 36 million families with children who received child tax credit advance payments in 2021 (as part of the American Recovery Act) must report how much they got in these payments on their tax returns, and in some cases, says the IRS, the The best way to check how much you received is through your IRS online account. Instead, it says: “To complete your 2021 tax return, use the information in your online account. It can also refer to Letter 6419.” Poor me! On January 27, the IRS released a statement saying that for a limited group of taxpayers, the information on Letter 6419 is incorrect.


The group includes people who moved or changed bank accounts in December, and their checks were returned as undeliverable or their direct deposits were declined. So instead of counting on the letter, the statement offers this advice: “For any recipient who did not receive their letter or is unsure of the amount they received in 2021, there are options to help. In addition to letters being sent in the mail, the IRS encourages people to verify their account online at IRS.gov beginning January 31." So you are stuck using ID.me.

If you don't already have an IRS online account, with a username and password, the only way to log in is using ID.me. That requires a willingness to hand over some private information and patience. The IRS announced in November that starting this summer it would require ID.me verification for everyone, including people with accounts that use the old username and password login method. Watchdogs raised the alarm about ID.me's use of facial scanning data and the collection of personal data, including passports, birth certificates, and IRS W-2 forms. ID.me says it's secure and has provided digital identity verification for more than 70 million Americans across 10 federal agencies and 30 states to date. How easy is it to get an IRS online account through ID.me? Nine out of ten people go through the verification process in five minutes, according to the company. You enter your address, date of birth, and cell phone number, upload an ID like a driver's license, agree to a credit check, and a facial scan. For the other 10%, if the self-service method doesn't work, the amount of time trying to use the self-service method, combined with waiting for a video chat representative, can mean that the entire process takes much longer.


From June 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, the maximum wait times for a video chat were 45 minutes, a company spokesperson said, adding that they are hiring more seasonal video chat agents. and they are "confident that as our workforce doubles and comes back online at full capacity, we will be able to serve all users efficiently."

In my case, when I tried the self service method twice, I got two different error codes. That meant I was offered the option of a video chat. I had a four hour wait (three hours and 52 minutes by countdown clock to be exact). If you leave the tab open on a desktop, you can see the countdown. When a representative showed up, the dark call center she worked at looked a bit sketchy and she seemed a bit bored, but the verification process went smoothly. I held up my driver's license and then my passport in front of my laptop camera and agreed that she could take a picture of me ("for audit purposes").


The next step is to return to your email, where you must click a link to return to the IRS, then click the ID.me button to consent to sharing your verified information. Once you do that, you can log in to your IRS online account using your new ID.me verification.


Armed with your ID.me verification, you can log into your IRS online account. The home page tells you how much, if any, the IRS says it issued you in 2021 advance Child Tax Credit payments (and Economic Impact Payments, also known as $1,400 stimulus checks issued to most Americans in 2021 ). Note: If you are married filing jointly, your IRS online account will have a total household amount for Child Tax Credit payments issued, while each spouse will receive a Letter 6419 reporting half of the household advance payments . Have more questions about the Child Tax Credit? The IRS issued a 24-page document explaining how the new 2021 child tax credit advanced payment works in January: IRS updates 2021 Filing Season Child Tax Credit FAQs, information to help taxpayers prepare their 2021 returns. And then the IRS issued an updated 26-page document in February: The IRS Updates the 2021 Child Tax Credit and Advance Child Tax Credit FAQs. The main change was on what to do if the Child Tax Credit Update Portal shows a payment was issued but never received. The answer: call the IRS.

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