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IRS will require facial-recognition to access online system

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IRS will require facial-recognition to access online system
President Joe Biden takes a selfie. The IRS will require a selfie for those wishing to use its online system. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The Internal Revenue Service will require taxpayers to take selfies and verify their identities through ID.me to access online accounts starting this summer.

Currently, existing accounts only need an email and password to get access, which the IRS says is risky. That system will phase out by mid-2022 as the IRS moves to protect taxpayers from identity theft.

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But privacy advocates are opposing the move, stating that the company running ID.me has been unreliable in verifying identities.

Those in opposition, like the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, also expressed fears of information being easily hacked, leaked or misused.

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An IRS spokesperson said that Americans are not obligated to take selfies or make an ID.me account to file their tax returns.

"The IRS emphasizes 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, by credit card or by other means without the use of facial recognition technology or registering for an account."

But other services -- like records of previous payments, access to wage transcripts, and access to the Child Tax Credit Update portal -- require use of ID.me. Other tools will transition to use the platform over the next year.

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The 12-year-old Virginia-based company ID.me has become the government's default ID-verification system over the course of the pandemic.

It's secured over $200 million in venture funding and contracts with 27 states.

Those who had already registered on IRS.gov need to provide a government ID, a copy of a utility bill, and a selfie.

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