Beginning this summer, taxpayers who want to access their online accounts on IRS.gov will be required to take a selfie and verify their identity with ID.me.
Existing online accounts with IRS.gov, which require only an email and password to access, will no longer work as of the middle of 2022, the IRS says.
The IRS says the move is necessary to protect taxpayers from potential identity theft, but privacy advocates say it's invasive, and point out that the company behind ID.me has a spotty record in verifying people's identities.
The move "will only lead to further ruin for Americans when their data is inevitably breached," Jackie Singh, director of technology and operations at the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, wrote Jan. 20 in a salty tweet. The online IRS services that will soon require verification were used 60 million times in the last fiscal year, STOP estimated.
The IRS said Americans will not need to take a selfie or make an ID.me account to file their tax return. However, taxpayers will need to register with the new security system to see records of previous payments, see previous years' transcripts or to access their Child Tax Credit portal.
The IRS says additional IRS tools will transition to use ID.me verification over the next year.
To sign up for an account, users need to provide an email address and a landline or mobile phone number, upload identity documents and take a selfie with a camera that will then scan the user's face to verify their identity. If the application flags any issues with a taxpayer's documents, the person will be asked to do a video chat or phone call with an ID.me representative.
Users are also required to agree to the use of their biometric data, which ID.me says can include handprints, face scans, facial geometry and retina scans.