The IRS now wants taxpayers to either submit a biometric faceprint or else navigate a 17-step process simply to access their IRS account.
Taxpayers using the 17-step process will be required to submit to a Facetime-style video interview.
This change was made after the agency came under fire for requiring the use of facial recognition technology as the only option to verify one’s identity. The new IRS 17-step process only raises further questions.
Naomi Jagoda with Bloomberg highlighted the agency’s announcement:
“The IRS’s new option for creating an online account requires taxpayers to follow a 17-step process to verify their identity, including a virtual interview with a third-party representative.
The agency announced this week that for this tax-filing season taxpayers will be able to verify their identity through virtual interviews with agents of a company called ID.me, instead of through facial recognition software. Taxpayers will also still be able to choose to verify their identity through ID.me using facial-recognition technology, the IRS said.”
To be clear, the agency did not do away with the idea of collecting biometric data. Providing the IRS your government ID, selfie, and biometric data is still an option; however, having a video chat with an agent is offered as an alternative.
This 17-step verification process already includes disclosing your Social Security Number, answering numerous questions, and providing two primary documents, like a drivers’ license or U.S. Passport, or one primary document and two secondary documents. The 17th step is joining a video call with an agent, where you’ll be required again to show your documents.
Below are the 17 steps the IRS requires:
- Navigate to the IRS application login page and select Create an account with ID.me.
- Select the Video Chat Agent option and select Continue.
- Select Get Started and follow the prompts to verify your identity.
- Accept ID.me’s consent to collect personally identifiable information and select Continue.
- Fill in your information and select Continue.
- Confirm your Social Security number and select Continue.
- Gather your documents.
- Select the primary document you would like to use and select Continue.
- Confirm the name on the document matches the name previously entered and select Continue.
- Select either one additional primary document or two additional secondary documents and select Continue.
- Make sure the name on this document matches the name previously entered and select Continue.
- Choose how you want to send ID.me your documents and select Continue.
- If uploading an image, select Choose Image and upload both the front and back of your document and select Continue.
- Once your documents have been uploaded, they will be reviewed live by an ID.me Video Chat Agent.
- Once your documents have been reviewed, you will receive an email from ID.me inviting you to join a video call with an ID.me Video Chat Agent. Select Check in now.
- Wait for the next Video Chat Agent to be available.
- When prompted select Join Video Call to speak with a Video Chat Agent.
In the original proposal, the IRS notes that, in the event of an investigation, the app can be used to track a taxpayer:
“The use of mobile phones is required in order for the applicant to complete the IAL2 identity proofing process. Mobile phones are used as a piece of identity evidence themselves and to capture additional identity evidence (e.g., photo of government issued identification document). Geolocation can be gleaned from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the event of an investigation into a user.”
It’s unclear that the IRS made any changes regarding the geolocation of taxpayers.
As part of their “Build Back Better” plan, President Biden and congressional Democrats have proposed the addition of 87,000 new IRS agents and auditors. They are still trying to give the IRS new powers to automatically access and store personal bank account inflow and outflow data, and Venmo, PayPal, CashApp data for what the Biden Treasury Department officially describes as a “Comprehensive Financial Account Information Reporting Regime.”
The House-passed “BBB” plan would generate 1.2 million additional IRS audits per year, about half hitting households making less than $75k.
Democrats have also pushed for a government tax preparation system, and a retroactive repeal of section 6751(b) of the tax code, a provision that protects taxpayers by requiring IRS agents to receive supervisory approval before imposing penalties on taxpayers.
Evidently, the Left has shown little regard for taxpayer protections or privacy rights. Combined with the new IRS biometric and video-chatting tools, taxpayers are right to be concerned.
Though the IRS made technological changes based on privacy concerns raised by both Democrats and Republicans, it’s not clear that this alternative verification method quells any of those concerns.