The IRS’ new online identity verification process, with ID.me, has 17 steps

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The IRS’ new option to create 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 from a company called ID.me, instead of using facial recognition software. Taxpayers will also be able to choose to verify their identity through ID.me using facial recognition technology, the IRS said.

The IRS announcement of the video chat option follows the agency’s decision earlier this month to move away from mandatory use of ID.me’s facial recognition authentication system.

According to the ID.me website, taxpayers will speak to a company representative at the end of the multi-step process. Taxpayers will first need to provide ID.me with photos of two pieces of ID. After an agent reviews the documents, taxpayers receive an email inviting them to join a video call and then wait for an agent to be available to chat.

The verification process will take about 5 to 10 minutes, plus any wait time for an agent, the company’s website said.

ID.me announced plans in January to hire an additional 750 agents to handle video chats. The company said in an email Tuesday that it plans to have more than 2,000 customer service staff, including video chat agents, by the end of this month.

The IRS said in a statement that for taxpayers who continue to use the facial recognition option, “new requirements are in place to ensure taxpayer-provided images are removed for the account being created.” .

“Any existing biometric data of taxpayers who previously created an IRS online account that has already been collected will also be permanently deleted over the next few weeks,” the agency added.

The facial recognition option requires taxpayers to submit a photo of government ID along with a selfie, and does not require a virtual interview.

The IRS said after this year’s filing season, it plans to use Login.gov, which is run by the federal government and is already used on some government websites, as an authentication tool.

“The General Services Administration is currently working with the IRS to achieve the security standards and scale required for Login.gov, with the goal of making progress toward introducing this option after the 2022 filing deadline,” said said the agency.

The IRS started using ID.me for various web tools last year and planned to transfer more tools to the service this year. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have raised privacy concerns over the technology, prompting the IRS to announce it will walk away from it.

—With help from Courtney Rozen.

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