ID.me IRS – Identity and Tax Return Verification for 2023
ID.me IRS: In November 2021, the Internal Revenue Service updated how users sign in and verify their identity for certain IRS online services. The IRS embraced a mobile-friendly platform, but it relies on a third party to provide verification. Moreover, the platform also uses biometrics and facial recognition software. Unfortunately, it may have come at the expense of user experience. Nevertheless, taxpayers were encouraged to open a new account by using ID.me when logging into IRS online portals. This new procedure is part of the IRS’s Identity, Credential, and Access Management (ICAM) initiatives. The goal is to give taxpayers more ways to verify their identity when accessing IRS tools and tax portals.
The IRS continues to use ID.me as a third-party technology provider for identity verification and sign-in services. Therefore, anyone who already has an ID.me account from the Child Tax Credit Update Portal or another government agency can sign in using their current credentials. However, new users must provide a photo of an identity document such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. They’ll also need to take a selfie with a smartphone or a webcam on a computer. This is all part of the identity verification process. Once established, taxpayers can use their account across multiple IRS tools and other government agencies that use ID.me.
IRS Changes ID.me Requirements – February 2022
Online IRS accounts are useful for verifying one’s ID for refund information or securing an Identity Protection Number (PIN). PIN numbers are required when filing tax returns electronically and getting information about Child Tax Credit payments. However, many people are having difficulty registering for ID.me accounts. Others are not happy with releasing their photos to a third-party vendor to access their government accounts
ID.me IRS – Taxpayer Backlash to Facial Recognition Software
The ID.me facial recognition software doesn’t always work well. Some people simply do not trust the private company ID.me with their biometric data and other private personally identifying information. As a result of user and political pressure, the IRS announced that it will no longer require facial recognition. Also, they are working on a plan to replace ID.me in 2023.
Alternatively, people can access their IRS information through ID.me without having to upload their pictures for facial recognition. Instead, they can request a virtual call with a live representative to verify their identity. However, there may be delays and long wait times to speak with a live representative. Either way, for those who prefer, the facial recognition process is still available. However, ID.me will now delete all photos for both new users and those who have previously used the facial recognition process to create an ID.me account. The IRS also claims to be working on a completely new system, which it hopes to have available by the 2023 tax season.
ID.me IRS Announcement
The IRS announced today (February 21, 2022) that a new option in the agency’s authentication system is now available for taxpayers to sign up for IRS online accounts without the use of any biometric data, including facial recognition. This is consistent with the IRS’s commitment earlier this month to transition away from the requirement for taxpayers creating an IRS online account to provide a selfie to a third-party service to help authenticate their identity. Taxpayers will have the option of verifying their identity during a live, virtual interview with agents; no biometric data – including facial recognition – will be required if taxpayers choose to authenticate their identity through a virtual interview. (Source: irs.gov)
Identity Theft and IRS Letter 5071C
Identity theft continues to be a problem. In response to increasing tax-related identity theft, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) monitors tax returns for signs of fraudulent activity. The most common type of scam involves thieves using a person’s name and Social Security number. Fraudsters then file a false return and steal the tax refund. When the IRS suspects a return is fraudulent, it will seek identity verification from the person whose name and address appear on the return.
What happens if the IRS suspects that a tax return in your name is the result of identity theft? In that case, it will send you a special letter known as a 5071C Letter. This letter is to inform you that the agency has received a tax return bearing your name and Social Security number. However, the agency believes it might not be yours. The letter instructs you to take specific steps to verify your identity confirming that the return is indeed yours. The IRS offers only two ways to verify your identity:
- Online – at the IRS Identity Verification Service website
- By phone – at the toll-free number listed on your 5071C Lette
Other Ways to Verify Your Identity
If you can’t verify your identity online or don’t have the required documentation, you can use the toll-free number listed in your letter. To expedite the process when calling, you must have:
- Your 5071C letter – Or 5747C letter, 5447C letter, or 6331C letter
- Current tax return – The Form 1040-series tax return for the year shown on the letter
- Note: A Form W-2 or 1099 is not a tax return
- A prior-year tax return – Any other prior-year tax return, if you filed one
- Supporting tax documentation – For example, any supporting W-2s, 1099s, Schedule C, Schedule F, etc.
Sometimes, the IRS agent can’t verify your identity over the phone. In that case, they may ask you to visit your local IRS office to verify your identity in person.
ID.me IRS News
Report: ID.me Lied to the IRS About Wait Times for Its Identity Verification Service (November 2022)
Two U.S. House committees revealed that identity verification vendor ID.me purposefully misled the U.S. Government. ID.me understated the length of time people had to wait for virtual interviews to access government benefits. At the same time, the vendor massively exaggerated the extent of welfare fraud during the pandemic.
“It is deeply disappointing that a company that received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to assist Americans in obtaining these benefits may have jeopardized their ability to access that critical relief. The practices of ID.me risked putting desperately needed relief out of reach for Americans who do not have ready access to computers, smartphones, or the internet.” (Source: Rep. James Clyburn, Chair of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis)
According to the committees, ID.me claimed a 2-hour wait time in 2021. This applied to 10-15% of people seeking benefits who ID.me was unable to identify using its facial recognition software. In reality, wait times in the majority of states using the system exceeded 4 hours on average. Moreover, in some states, wait times exceeded 9 hours. The ability to schedule virtual appointments was removed by ID.me the same year. As a result, it is even more difficult for working people and those who rely on public computers to receive benefits.
At the end of the multi-step process, taxpayers will speak with a company representative. This is according to ID.me’s website. However, taxpayers must first upload photos of two identification documents to ID.me. Following an agent’s review of the documents, taxpayers will receive an email inviting them to participate in a video call. Taxpayers must then wait for an agent to be available to chat. According to the company’s website, the verification process will take 5 to 10 minutes. But, this time estimate does not include any wait time for an agent while on hold. ID.me announced in January that it would hire an additional 750 video chat agents. In an email sent Tuesday, the company stated that it expects to have over 2,000 customer-service representatives, including video chat agents, by the end of February 2022.
ID.me IRS – Taxpayer Privacy Issues
Taxpayers will still have the option to verify their identity automatically through the use of biometric verification through ID.me’s self-assistance tool if they choose. For taxpayers who select this option, new requirements are in place to ensure images provided by taxpayers are deleted for the account being created. Any existing biometric data from taxpayers who previously created an IRS Online Account that has already been collected will also be permanently deleted over the course of the next few weeks. (Source: irs.gov)
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Who is Santa Barbara Tax Products Group (TPG Products SBTPG LLC)?
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