Even if you use tax tools to file your own taxes, you may need to give the IRS selfies of yourself if your IRS credentials are set to expire soon. By the summer of 2022, the sole way to access irs.gov’s website will be via ID.me, an online identity verification service. ID.me applicants will have to submit copies of bills along with various forms of identification documents. In addition, a live video feed of their faces must be submitted via a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet.
Many states already use ID.me to stop identity fraudsters from stealing billions of dollars in unemployment insurance and pandemic aid. Now, the IRS is joining the 27 other states that are already using ID.me. The IRS selfies requirement is in place for the purpose of screening for identity thieves who ask for benefits in another’s name.
To successfully go through the IRS selfie ID.me process, applicants must provide far more information than is common for online verification systems. Most systems require only a scan of a license or government-issued ID. It’s also not uncommon for applicants to be asked to provide copies of utility or insurance bills and information about their mobile phone subscription.
In some instances, ID.me may need a recorded, live IRS selfie or video chat with the person applying for benefits. This is usually necessary if they don’t have one or more of the previously mentioned forms of identification— or if something about their application raises suspicion for fraudulence. ID.me is a privately-held company that already has 64 million users. On a daily basis, the company acquires about 145,000 new users.
If an applicant’s IRS selfie and documents are approved, ID.me will ask the person to snap a live selfie with a smartphone or webcam. ID.me verifies the live selfie output to the images on the person’s driver’s license scan. It has been reported that it can require numerous attempts to get the live selfie just right.
The IRS used to rely on Equifax for identity verification and did not require an IRS selfie. Anyone with frozen credit files had to lift the freeze in order to pass through the IRS’s old authentication system, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. One applicant was fearful a freeze with the three main credit bureaus would delay the approval of her ID.me application. However, she reports ID.me made no mention of the requirement to lift or thaw that security freeze in order to finish the authentication process.
In October 2017, the IRS terminated its “taxpayer identity” contract with Equifax after the credit bureau revealed that a failure to fix a four-month-old zero-day security weakness resulted in the theft of 148 million Americans’ Social Security numbers and personal and financial information. This breach combined with the new ID.me IRS selfie requirements will likely fuel objections to the new ID.me requirement. People don’t like having to submit so much confidential and private data to a relatively obscure, private corporation.
ID.me implements security measures for all of the sensitive data it collects, which would undoubtedly be a tempting target for hackers and identity thieves. It secures its users’ IRS selfies and data by adhering to the NIST 800-63-3 digital identification criteria. This means the company has numerous layers of protection and totally separates static consumer data connected to a validated identity from the key used to represent that person.
Whether you like it or not, ID.me will likely become a necessity for Americans to manage their relationship with the state and federal governments. Because of the time required to take an IRS selfie and create an ID.me account, those wishing to create one should not wait until the eleventh hour. Instead, it’s wise to start the application process today. This is especially essential for taxpayers and those with cryptocurrency as the United States now requires you to pay taxes on both traditional income and crypto.