January 21 (UPI) — The Internal Revenue Service will require taxpayers to take selfies and verify their identity through ID.me to access online accounts starting this summer.
Currently, existing accounts only need email and password to access it, which the IRS says is risky. This system will be phased out by mid-2022 as the IRS moves to protect taxpayers from identity theft.
But privacy advocates oppose the move, saying the company that runs ID.me has been unreliable in verifying identities.
Opponents, like the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, have also expressed concerns that the information could be easily hacked, leaked or misused.
An IRS spokesperson said Americans are not required to take selfies or create an ID.me account to file their taxes.
“The IRS emphasizes that taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company,” the agency said in a statement. “Tax payments can be made from a bank account, credit card or other means without using facial recognition technology or opening an account.”
But other services — like records of previous payments, access to salary transcripts, and access to the child tax credit update portal — require the use of ID.me. Other tools will switch to using the platform over the next year.
The 12-year-old Virginia-based company ID.me has become the government’s default identity verification system during the pandemic.
It has secured over $200 million in venture capital funding and contracts with 27 states.
Those who had previously registered with IRS.gov must provide government ID, a copy of a utility bill, and a selfie.