The IRS is sticking with ID.me for the verification of taxpayers’ identities this year, but has officially announced that those who don’t want to undergo biometric onboarding will have the option of confirming their identity in a live video chat.
News of the Internal Revenue Service’s partnership with ID.me first came to light in January, when it was revealed that taxpayers would be required to use the latter’s selfie-based identity verification platform to file taxes online going forward. The news prompted intense scrutiny from mainstream media outlets and civil rights organizations; and while ID.me sought to quell any concerns by being transparent about its technology partners and how it leverages their technologies for identity verification, the Treasury Department – which oversees the IRS – soon signalled that it was reconsidering the use of ID.me’s platform.
In early February, the IRS indicated that it would back away from facial recognition for taxpayer verification, and search for an alternative, non-biometric identity verification option. Around the same time, ID.me announced that it was adding a video chat identity verification option to its platform, as a complement to selfie-based onboarding.
Now, it looks like that’s good enough for the IRS after all – at least for this year. This week the IRS officially announced that for tax filings in 2022, taxpayers will be able to use ID.me’s biometric identity verification services, or a non-biometric verification option through a live video chat. And according to a report from The Hill, the virtual interview option will also be facilitated by ID.me.
That having been said, the IRS characterized this arrangement as a “short-term solution” in place for this year’s filing season, and indicated that it is working with the General Services Administration to establish a new ‘Login.Gov’ online filing system that it hopes to roll out after the 2022 filing season has ended.
In the meantime, the IRS says that “new requirements are in place” to ensure that any images uploaded by taxpayers who opt for the non-biometric option will be deleted, and the agency says that biometric data that has already been collected from taxpayers who previously created online accounts will be “permanently deleted over the course of the next few weeks.”
February 23, 2022 – by Alex Perala