American taxpayers will soon be required to sign up with an identity verification company to access their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accounts online.
Currently, those with an online account at IRS.gov online can log in using only their email address and password. Staring this summer, those accounts will cease to function, and users will have to verify their identity by creating an account with online identity verification service, ID.me.
Based in McLean, Virginia, ID.me requires applicants to prove who they are by uploading a photo of an identity document such as a driver’s license, state ID or passport and taking a selfie with a smartphone or a computer with a webcam.
While Americans will not need to make an ID.me account to file a tax return, they will need to register with the new security system to access the Child Tax Credit portal, view previous years’ transcripts, get an identity protection PIN, see records of previous payments and view the online payment agreement.
“The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company. Tax payments can be made from a bank account, by credit card or by other means without the use of facial recognition technology or registering for an account,” said an IRS spokesperson.
The IRS has received criticism for requiring taxpayers to allow their biometric data to be collected to access their own tax data.
Jackie Singh, director of technology and operations at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, predicted that the new security requirement “will only lead to further ruin for Americans when their data is inevitably breached.”
The IRS said the new process would help to ensure that taxpayer information is provided only to the person who has a legal right to the data.
“Identity verification is critical to protect taxpayers and their information. The IRS has been working hard to make improvements in this area, and this new verification process is designed to make IRS online applications as secure as possible for people,” said IRS commissioner Chuck Rettig.”