IRS will soon demand video selfies for online user identification

Posted:
in General Discussion
Users planning to file their taxes or check their tax payment history will soon be required to provide extensive documentation to a third-party company, including shots of utility bills and a video selfie.




Starting this summer, the IRS will require new and existing users to set up an ID.me account to file taxes, access tax records, create or view tax records, and more.

ID.me is a Virginia-based identification verification company that launched in 2010. The company is known for its work in the retail industry, where veterans, students, nurses, and first responders register accounts to receive discounts at various stores.

Now, the U.S. government is pairing up with ID.me, requiring users to submit government-issued ID, copies of utility statements, and biometric data to the privately-held company. According to Krebs on Security, 27 states also employ the company's services to help thwart identity theft.

The process, which an AppleInsider staffer had to go through, can take anywhere from five to ten minutes if everything goes off without a hitch. It requires a government-issued ID, proof of residence such as utility bills, and a selfie taken through the company's website using either a smartphone or a computer's webcam.

The selfie required isn't a photograph but rather a video that scans a user's face multiple times. Unfortunately, we found that the video selfie is hardly a perfect science.

Even though we stood in a fully-lit room, the video selfie was deemed too dark. In order to remedy it, we were forced to utilize a lightbulb in an unshaded lamp a few feet from our face.

However, once the video selfie is accepted, the process is nearly instantaneous, allowing users to immediately access their IRS.gov profile.

Should you need to go through the process, we highly suggest that you make sure you have your ID, copies of utility bills, a very well-lit room, and access to your smartphone for multi-factor verification before starting.

Krebs on Security had a different experience, which required their staffer to be verified through ID.me's live, in-person verification process. While they were able to get through it relatively quickly, it is far more likely that the process would take hours.

Again, we highly suggest making sure you have all documents on hand, and, preferably, make sure you start the process when you have some free time and well in advance before you need access to your account.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    In order to decline **Advance** Child Tax Credits, you have to use this. I was able to fairly easily but it never worked for my wife after multiple tries for days and we had to give up. The option to have someone verify you live never came up and leaving messages didn’t work either as no one ever replied. They need to fix it before forcing everyone to use it.
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    In theory a video call with the people who run elections, with you showing your ID (using biometrics, like your face or fingerprint) could be enough validation of identity to cast your vote online, securely, and with a likelihood of privacy (eg, you could vote by pressing a ballot button on your screen.) But this probably won't be realized for another 50 years, even though the required technology exists today, because the political will isn't here yet.

    I would expect small jurisdictions with homogenous legal frameworks, perhaps like Singapore, to take the lead in this. They will probably do this in 20 years.
    MacsWithPenguinspeterhartcat52
  • Reply 3 of 24
    This must be the most complicated system I’ve seen for secure login. If you want to know how easy filing and checking tax return is in Sweden, you can take a look here:

    https://www.skatteverket.se/servicelankar/otherlanguages/inenglish/individualsandemployees/declaringtaxesforindividuals/howtofileyourtaxreturn.4.7be5268414bea064694c620.html

    We have been using a national service called BankID for 19 years now (the first offering of the service launched in 2003). It is actually a service from a private-sector company (sort of unusual for a Scandinavian solution). The company is an incorporated company co-owned by a long list of national banks (not all of the banks, but a lot of them). Why is the Swedish solution so easy and convenient to use? Because every citizen has got a Personal Identity Number (introduced in 1947). This number is unique to every citizen and Bank-ID utilizes this as the authenticating username. 

    It is not possible to register for Bank-ID at Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency). You can’t apply for it on the Bank-ID website, either. Instead, you login securely to your bank’s website or complementary mobile app and then apply for it there in an online self-service system. After a few minutes of setting it up, you’ve got a valid, secure authentication system to use on what is claimed on Wikipedia to be more than 600 websites (I assume all are national sites, unless there are also EU government-related web services accepting it). Their only national competitor, to my knowledge, is Freja e-ID (https://frejaeid.com/skaffa-freja-eid/), but it isn’t universally accepted in the way Bank-ID is. Rather obscure at this point in time. 

     When I started using Bank-ID many, many years ago, it was only through my computer using Bank-ID’s desktop software, since it was before the iPhone was released. These days barely anyone uses that. The smartphone and tablet app is peoples’ default.

    I think this kind of system is impossible to implement in the US because of enough percentages of the population being either outright suspicious or mildly doubtful about the government in general. Even if only 0.5 % of the US population were upset about the privacy implications and refused to login to file taxes, it would still be 0.5 % of > 300 million people (excluding people who do not need to file taxes because they don’t have an employment or other income). Sweden on the other hand, is a small enough country using a 100 % trusted Personal Identity Number system with citizens who deeply trust their government (not talking about politicians, but rather: politically-neutral gov offices and services), with an unusually high penetration of IT services and nationally widespread internet broadband infrastructure, which makes these kind of solutions possible here. 

    Not saying we are the best in IT services, though. If you want the most daring, innovative IT services, Estonia is without any doubt the EU leader in the area and they frequently pioneer new IT systems. If you wondered why Estonia was long the home for Skype Software engineers, it’s of course cheaper. It’s all about tax evasion/optimization and what not, but it’s also easy to find highly qualified IT people. On the international level, I would assume South Korea and Singapore (possibly Japan as well) are in the top 5 list of providing convenient, secure IT services for their respective population.
    edited January 20 fred1peterhartronncat52
  • Reply 4 of 24
    In regards to taxes, we use Simplified tax returns in Sweden, which means: if your employer sent in your tax report correctly to the Swedish Tax Agency, all you need to do in terms of ”filing your taxes” is to either send a simple SMS with some minor content, and wait for an automated reply, or you choose any of the following ways (described in detail on the tax agency website link I posted previously): login to the tax agency website in a web browser or use their app. Once logged in, you confirm that your records and your personal information is correct, click, click, and it’s done. It takes about 5 minutes. Meanwhile in the US, Quicken wants to sell you computer software to make things less cumbersome. That said, you will of course have a very different experience if you need to file things outside of job income tax, like complementary income tax related to stock profits and other investments. People who are self-employed will, as always, need to do a lot more work with tax filings.

    Here’s Adam Ruins Everything explaining how US tax filing could have been allowed to be simpler in general (but it isn’t):
    https://youtu.be/Fj4anUL-LvY
    edited January 20 ronncat52
  • Reply 5 of 24
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 599member
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    zimmie said:
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.

    Or is it the same reason why the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs it created and manufactured?     Money!  Industry lobbying (and bribing) of politicians?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 

    Agreed.
    But Identify Theft and Fraud have become a major problem for the IRS.

    People's Social Security Number and the answers to typical security questions have become public knowledge on the not-so-dark web.   As a result, criminals file for a tax refund early, before the real person files their return -- and then walk away with the person's refund.   Later, when the real person files their return they find out that they're a day late and LOT of dollars short.  (I am sure there is some accommodation for them but I've never heard what it is).

    While this new way does sound ideal, something needs to be done.

    Meanwhile, I file my taxes as soon and as quickly as I am able.  Right now I am waiting for my 1099's to come in the mail.   What is taking so long?
  • Reply 9 of 24
    My one experience with id.me was frustrating and unsuccessful. I had to sign up with them to preregister for a drive-through COVID PCR test a couple of weeks ago. Their questions, and the proofs they asked for, were seriously intrusive, especially for a company I'd never even heard of before - so much so that I would only provide them with my phone number. When that proved insufficient, I decided to skip the whole business and sign up the old-fashioned way when I got to the testing center.
    GeorgeBMaccat52
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Coincidentally, I went through this process with IRS.gov just yesterday. For me it did not require a utility bill, though it did appear to scan my address from my drivers license incorrectly, but that was easy to fix. As always, YMMV.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,994member
    zimmie said:
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.

    Or is it the same reason why the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs it created and manufactured?     Money!  Industry lobbying (and bribing) of politicians?
    I remember a number of years ago there was a push to simplify the tax code. Make it so simple that it could be done in a web browser eliminate the arcane exemptions and deductions and headache. I remember seeing a video where a congressman was critical of the proposal because, “think of the hit to the economy. The jobs lost in the tax preparation and accounting industry”. 
    StrangeDaysGeorgeBMaccat52
  • Reply 12 of 24
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,159member
    This is really upsetting, not because it requires video to "prove" your identity but it is literally necessary and I feel bad for the elderly people who have been extremely frustrated by using computers.  My 74 years old mother owns Apple devices and even gets frustrated with how complicated those devices are and how they're needed for remote visits and they have to register, login, through their websites and have to learn what their website UX is. 

    Honestly, the UX has gotten much worse.


    StrangeDaysGeorgeBMaccat52
  • Reply 13 of 24
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 948member
    Apple uses IDme for the online store to get discounts as a veteran.
    Pretty sure they have a database of honorably discharged from DoD because no photo was needed for that.

  • Reply 14 of 24
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,017member
    DAalseth said:
    zimmie said:
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.

    Or is it the same reason why the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs it created and manufactured?     Money!  Industry lobbying (and bribing) of politicians?
    I remember a number of years ago there was a push to simplify the tax code. Make it so simple that it could be done in a web browser eliminate the arcane exemptions and deductions and headache. I remember seeing a video where a congressman was critical of the proposal because, “think of the hit to the economy. The jobs lost in the tax preparation and accounting industry”. 
    Quicken & friends have lobbied hard against efforts like this, and the floated idea of anyone being able to use an official IRS website to do the filing process instead of everyone paying financial companies to do it. 
  • Reply 15 of 24
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,653member
    zimmie said:
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.

    Or is it the same reason why the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs it created and manufactured?     Money!  Industry lobbying (and bribing) of politicians?
    Actually, George the reason drug prices are high in the US are mainly because the rest of the world is not paying their fair share.  I am sure there are lots of other peripheral reasons, including lobbying etc.  But it comes down to this:

    It takes money to develop a drug.  (And in actuality it is more than just the successful R&D and regulatory compliance costs of successful ones -- unsuccessful ones have to be amortized across the successful ones).

    Let's pretend our sample drug comes in pill form.  Most countries around the world have formularies that list allowed drugs and the maximum price they will pay per pill.  Most of the time, that max price is based on MANUFACTURING costs (labor, materials, etc) only.  Plus they allow some small markup for profit.  So if a pill costs 50 cents to manufacture and distribute, the set price these other countries will pay may be 55 or 60 cents.

    The problem is, that the cost of the pill is not just the cost to manufacture.  There is the cost of R&D, regulatory compliance/acceptance (drug trials etc), general company overhead, etc.   For our example, let's say that the total actual cost per pill for manufacturing, share of R&D, share of regulatory, etc is $1 per pill.  So selling the for 60 cents to some foreign country is actually a loss of 40 cents.  To include a reasonable markup, that $1 is sold in the US for $1.10.   That difference from international paymnet vs actual costneeds to be made up.  Depending on volumes to international vs domestic, it could mean that the price in the US needs to be $1.35 or $1.75 per pill to make it up (since volume differences exist it is not  straight 40 cents per pill added to the actual cost).

    So the pill that costs, say Canada, 60 cents cists $1.35 or $1.75 in the US.  Not because of greedy big pharma, but because of basic economics.  Canada is not paying their fair share and shifting those costs to the US, where we do not have price controls.   If the US had price controls, and say agreed to pay 70 cents per pill, the company would never develop it in the first place and the drug would never hit market as the company would be stupid to sell at a loss.

    Pharmaceutical companies don't have outrageous profit margins.  They make reasonable profits for their shareholders.  Especially based on their costs and risk.  Most new researched drugs never come to market as they end up not working or for other reasons.

    Apple has a lot larger profit margin than do the pharma companies.

  • Reply 16 of 24
    chadbag said:

    It takes money to develop a drug.  (And in actuality it is more than just the successful R&D and regulatory compliance costs of successful ones -- unsuccessful ones have to be amortized across the successful ones).

    Let's pretend our sample drug comes in pill form.  Most countries around the world have formularies that list allowed drugs and the maximum price they will pay per pill.  Most of the time, that max price is based on MANUFACTURING costs (labor, materials, etc) only.  Plus they allow some small markup for profit.  So if a pill costs 50 cents to manufacture and distribute, the set price these other countries will pay may be 55 or 60 cents.

    The problem is, that the cost of the pill is not just the cost to manufacture.  There is the cost of R&D, regulatory compliance/acceptance (drug trials etc), general company overhead, etc.   For our example, let's say that the total actual cost per pill for manufacturing, share of R&D, share of regulatory, etc is $1 per pill.  So selling the for 60 cents to some foreign country is actually a loss of 40 cents.  To include a reasonable markup, that $1 is sold in the US for $1.10.   That difference from international paymnet vs actual costneeds to be made up.  Depending on volumes to international vs domestic, it could mean that the price in the US needs to be $1.35 or $1.75 per pill to make it up (since volume differences exist it is not  straight 40 cents per pill added to the actual cost).

    So the pill that costs, say Canada, 60 cents cists $1.35 or $1.75 in the US.  Not because of greedy big pharma, but because of basic economics.  Canada is not paying their fair share and shifting those costs to the US, where we do not have price controls.   If the US had price controls, and say agreed to pay 70 cents per pill, the company would never develop it in the first place and the drug would never hit market as the company would be stupid to sell at a loss.

    Pharmaceutical companies don't have outrageous profit margins.  They make reasonable profits for their shareholders.  Especially based on their costs and risk.  Most new researched drugs never come to market as they end up not working or for other reasons.

    Apple has a lot larger profit margin than do the pharma companies.

    Are you certain that American pharmaceuticals have to sell into external markets at all - let alone at a loss? Can’t they refuse? 

  • Reply 17 of 24
    pslicepslice Posts: 142member
    Already use ID.me to get Veteran discounts. I thought it was easy, just had to provide my DD214 info, and also use it to get discounts and benefits as an EMT. It’s had its payoff. 
  • Reply 18 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    chadbag said:
    zimmie said:
     The IRS already requires you to be able to provide specific numbers from specific lines in the previous years tax return as part of identity verification online. I don't see how taking a low quality video selfie + photos of utility bills is any better than that. 
    It's a lot cheaper to keep printed documents around than it is to have access to a computer with a video camera. This helps exclude poor people from access to government services, pushing them towards other options like TurboTax, which cost money in most situations.

    It's the same reason the IRS doesn't file our tax returns for us. They already have the data, after all. Differences between what you provide and what they already have are one thing which can trigger an audit.

    Or is it the same reason why the U.S. pays the highest prices in the world for drugs it created and manufactured?     Money!  Industry lobbying (and bribing) of politicians?
    Actually, George the reason drug prices are high in the US are mainly because the rest of the world is not paying their fair share.  I am sure there are lots of other peripheral reasons, including lobbying etc.  But it comes down to this:

    It takes money to develop a drug.  (And in actuality it is more than just the successful R&D and regulatory compliance costs of successful ones -- unsuccessful ones have to be amortized across the successful ones).

    Let's pretend our sample drug comes in pill form.  Most countries around the world have formularies that list allowed drugs and the maximum price they will pay per pill.  Most of the time, that max price is based on MANUFACTURING costs (labor, materials, etc) only.  Plus they allow some small markup for profit.  So if a pill costs 50 cents to manufacture and distribute, the set price these other countries will pay may be 55 or 60 cents.

    The problem is, that the cost of the pill is not just the cost to manufacture.  There is the cost of R&D, regulatory compliance/acceptance (drug trials etc), general company overhead, etc.   For our example, let's say that the total actual cost per pill for manufacturing, share of R&D, share of regulatory, etc is $1 per pill.  So selling the for 60 cents to some foreign country is actually a loss of 40 cents.  To include a reasonable markup, that $1 is sold in the US for $1.10.   That difference from international paymnet vs actual costneeds to be made up.  Depending on volumes to international vs domestic, it could mean that the price in the US needs to be $1.35 or $1.75 per pill to make it up (since volume differences exist it is not  straight 40 cents per pill added to the actual cost).

    So the pill that costs, say Canada, 60 cents cists $1.35 or $1.75 in the US.  Not because of greedy big pharma, but because of basic economics.  Canada is not paying their fair share and shifting those costs to the US, where we do not have price controls.   If the US had price controls, and say agreed to pay 70 cents per pill, the company would never develop it in the first place and the drug would never hit market as the company would be stupid to sell at a loss.

    Pharmaceutical companies don't have outrageous profit margins.  They make reasonable profits for their shareholders.  Especially based on their costs and risk.  Most new researched drugs never come to market as they end up not working or for other reasons.

    Apple has a lot larger profit margin than do the pharma companies.

    PharmaBro (aka Martin Shkerli) fully agrees with you.
    It's called price fixing.   We not only allow it and enable it, we support it.  Other countries aren't that stupid.

    larryjw
  • Reply 19 of 24
    zeus423zeus423 Posts: 142member
    Am I the only one who doesn't trust ID.me with all of the information they want to collect? I can't wait to hear that they are hacked and lost everyone's data. I started the ID.me process to stop the stupid child tax credits, but once it got too nosey, I quit and called the IRS instead.
    cat52braytonak
  • Reply 20 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    zeus423 said:
    Am I the only one who doesn't trust ID.me with all of the information they want to collect? I can't wait to hear that they are hacked and lost everyone's data. I started the ID.me process to stop the stupid child tax credits, but once it got too nosey, I quit and called the IRS instead.
    I assume that any place that has my info will get hacked and my info will be stolen.
    Part of the problem is:  It is me (and you!) whose stuff is stolen.   The company suffers little or no consequences for their lax security -- so they have little incentive to invest in adequate security.

    But, the other part of the problem is what a security auditor told me back in the 80's:
    "If they want to get in, they will.   The trick is to make it hard enough that they go elsewhere".
    ... But, that also depends on the value of the stuff they'll be stealing.  It sounds like ID.me offers them a gold mine of personal data.

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