IRS will let taxpayers opt out of ID.me facial recognition with a live interview

After significant backlash to the federal agency's collection of biometric data, the IRS is offering live interviews as an alternative for taxpayers
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

US taxpayers who don't want to submit biometric data simply to sign up for an online account with the IRS now have another option. The IRS will let taxpayers verify their identity via a live, virtual interview to create an account, the agency said Monday

The new option in the agency's authentication system is now available as a short-term solution for this year's tax filing system, the IRS said. 

The agency received significant criticism for previously requiring taxpayers to authenticate their identity by providing a selfie. The IRS used facial recognition software from ID.me to analyze the selfies after signing an $86 million contract with the company. 

Civil rights groups and members of Congress from both parties questioned how the IRS could begin the use of facial recognition without advance warning. Consequently, earlier this month, the IRS said it would stop using the ID.me facial recognition software, adding in a statement that it will "transition away from using a third-party service for facial recognition to help authenticate people creating new online accounts."

However, the announcement did little to quell outrage about the initial decision to use ID.me's tools, and senators on both sides of the aisle continued to raise concerns about what information ID.me gained access to.

The IRS said Monday that taxpayers will still have the option to verify their identity automatically with ID.me's biometric verification tools. For taxpayers who select this option, new requirements are in place to ensure images provided by taxpayers are deleted for the account being created. Furthermore, the IRS said, 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.

For future tax filing seasons, the IRS is aiming to roll out Login.Gov as an authentication tool.

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