IRS reverses course, won't require video selfies for taxpayer identification

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The Internal Revenue Service is pulling away from its plan to start identifying taxpayers using video selfies via ID.me, with the government agency working to come up with another method that avoids facial recognition.




In January, the IRS revealed it was intending to use ID.me to verify new and existing users wanting to file taxes or to access tax records. A few weeks later, the IRS has changed course.

The IRS said on Monday it will "transition away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts."

As part of the change, the IRS will "quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition." It will also work with "cross-government partners to develop authentication methods" it could use, while still ensuring "broad access to tools."

The transition is expected to take place over the coming weeks, with the intention of avoiding causing mass disruption during tax season.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig insists the IRS takes privacy and security seriously, and understands the concerns raised since its initial announcement. "Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition."

The change in plans follows after a letter from members of Congress was sent to Rettig on Monday, expressing concern about the plan to require "millions of Americans to have their face scanned by a government contractor. The letter said facial recognition system usage by a government agency, or contracting with a third-party "creates potential risks of privacy violations and abuse."

The letter also highlighted issues of racial bias in face recognition systems, as well as a seeming "lack of transparency" in the contract between the IRS and ID.me and ID.me itself.

In an initial use of the system by an AppleInsider staffer, the verification process required a video selfie taken via the company's website, as well as utility bills or a proof of residence, and a government-issued ID. Taking the video selfie was problematic, with light issues slowing the process down.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    zeus423
  • Reply 2 of 26
    jccjcc Posts: 311member
    The less the government knows about us, the better.
    zeus423jimh2InspiredCode
  • Reply 3 of 26
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 628member
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    It was meant to prevent identity theft. Unemployment fraud is pretty significant right now. Faking a video is harder than faking a scan of a driver license or scan of a bill. Most thieves wouldn't go to the trouble, so they could be found out by looking for the same face in videos from multiple people. As a result, a lot of states started using this service for identity verification to cut down on said fraud.

    The IRS then chose it because it already had accounts for a large number of citizens. Wouldn't require people do another invasive verification process with a whole second service.
    mfryd
  • Reply 4 of 26
    zimmie said:
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    It was meant to prevent identity theft. Unemployment fraud is pretty significant right now. 
    What does that have to do with filing a tax return?
  • Reply 5 of 26
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,090member
    Just one more attempt at creating a facial database of every American, making it easier for the FBI to locate anyone. Is this in our Constitution?
    zeus423jimh2
  • Reply 6 of 26
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 628member
    zimmie said:
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    It was meant to prevent identity theft. Unemployment fraud is pretty significant right now. 
    What does that have to do with filing a tax return?
    Maybe read the second paragraph, where I answer that question.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,326member
    zimmie said:
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    It was meant to prevent identity theft. Unemployment fraud is pretty significant right now. 
    What does that have to do with filing a tax return?
    Really? Ask those who have had tax returns filed in their name with fraudulent information so as to qualify for a big refund. Identity theft has everything to do with filing a tax return and anything else. When my wife applied for Social Security benefits after she retired she was informed someone else had been collecting her benefits for two years with the deposit being sent to a bank in Florida. Fortunately we were able to get things corrected.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 8 of 26
    rob53 said:
    Just one more attempt at creating a facial database of every American, making it easier for the FBI to locate anyone. Is this in our Constitution?
    I heard the ATF is going to require ID.me for all firearm purchases.

    /s
    Ofer
  • Reply 9 of 26
    sricesrice Posts: 120member
    bummer, I was looking forward to sending them a picture of my chocolate starfish.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    zimmie said:
    zimmie said:
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 
    It was meant to prevent identity theft. Unemployment fraud is pretty significant right now. 
    What does that have to do with filing a tax return?
    Maybe read the second paragraph, where I answer that question
    That doesn't answer the question as to why the IRS would think it was necessary. It only answers the question as to how that company might come to the attention of a government agency like the IRS. Besides, it should be obvious that the number of citizens that previously filed federal returns would dwarf the number of citizens that used this system for state unemployment claims. Continuing to use the specific-numbers-from-specific-lines of the prior return to verify identity still seems perfectly valid and far easier. 
  • Reply 11 of 26
    An administration that put forth a plan to require authentication of people trying to pay their taxes, while simultaneously fighting like hell against authenticating people trying to vote.  

    Have I got that right?
    edited February 2022
  • Reply 12 of 26
    Instead the IRS will opt to partner with the TSA to verify identities through a deep colon sample.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 965member
    jcc said:
    The less the government knows about us, the better.
    You're missing the point. The IRS was contracting with a military aligned third party for this security and they would be selling the information to other entities. 




    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    That's good news. It doesn't really sound clear as to what problem they were trying to solve in the first place. The IRS has used methods like requiring users to provide specific numbers from specific lines of the previous years tax return as a form of verification in the past. That seemed to work just fine. 

    It's been far from fool proof:  With so much of people's private info now available on the dark web, scammers have taken to submitting early tax returns for real people claiming their refund.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    jcc said:
    The less the government knows about us, the better.

    Why?
  • Reply 16 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    rob53 said:
    Just one more attempt at creating a facial database of every American, making it easier for the FBI to locate anyone. Is this in our Constitution?

    So, it has to be written in the Constitution to be valid?   How many existing laws are in our Constitution?
    The only ones who need to fear identification are those breaking those laws.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    hmlongco said:
    rob53 said:
    Just one more attempt at creating a facial database of every American, making it easier for the FBI to locate anyone. Is this in our Constitution?
    I heard the ATF is going to require ID.me for all firearm purchases.

    /s

    That would be a good thing.  Long overdue.

  • Reply 18 of 26
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 11,421member
    An administration that put forth a plan to require authentication of people trying to pay their taxes, while simultaneously fighting like hell against authenticating people trying to vote.  

    Have I got that right?

    No, you don't
  • Reply 19 of 26
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,137member
    For me, the video selfie did not work (with my MBP) and you end up in an endless loop with no ability to go backwards.  For this to be rolled out two moths before the tax deadline was bad judgement and folly.  A lot of Americans don’t have the technology chops to pull this off, obviously I don’t.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,039member
    rob53 said:
    Just one more attempt at creating a facial database of every American, making it easier for the FBI to locate anyone. Is this in our Constitution?

    So, it has to be written in the Constitution to be valid?   How many existing laws are in our Constitution?
    The only ones who need to fear identification are those breaking those laws.
    Now that we all know you think surveillance is good and do not have an issue with it and believe you're are as pure as the driven snow. How about provide all of us all your personal login information and let us determine if what you are doing is acceptable if we all decide you are not we can turn you over to the authorities to deal with you. Remember it is not what your think is right and wrong it is what we all think is right.

    BTW, the government's only job is to ensure that no one infringes on our rights and pass no law which infringe on those rights including the government elected and non-elected officials and yes we all have a right to privacy so it is written into the Constitution.
    edited February 2022 muthuk_vanalingam
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