The start of a new tax season is fast approaching. This year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is strongly encouraging people to stick to filing their taxes online and not on paper, as the agency is already struggling under the weight of a backlog of paper returns from last year. But before you do that, you should be aware of a major change from the IRS that might affect the way you're able to file online and access other online tools. Read on to find out what you must do first before filing your taxes online in 2022.
The IRS is making a change that will affect how taxpayers access online tools.
If you do all your taxes online rather than on paper, the IRS is gearing up to make a major change that will impact you. In Nov. 2021, the agency announced that it was updating how users sign in and verify their identity for certain online services. The IRS will now use ID.me, an identity verification tool for sign-in service, to allow taxpayers to securely access most of the agency's tools in an effort to prevent identity theft.
According to the IRS website, the agency has transitioned to the new sign-in and identity verification system for five different online applications. This includes accessing your account online, which has information on how much you're owed for your return, your payment history, stimulus check information, payment plan details, and more. You'll also need ID.me to obtain transcripts, apply for payment plans, manage child tax credit payments, and retrieve an IP PIN, which is a number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your social security or taxpayer ID number.
This new system involves facial recognition.
This new identification recognition system will require a number of different things, centered around facial recognition technology. If you have never created an ID.me account with a government agency, you'll "have to provide a photo of an identity document such as a driver's license, state ID or passport as part of the identity verification process," the IRS warns. But you'll also need to snap a pic: You must have a smartphone or a computer with a webcam to take a selfie in order for the software to match you with your ID document.
"Once they verify their identity, they can use their account across multiple IRS tools and at other government agencies that also use ID.me," the IRS states on its website.
You can still use your old sign-in credentials until the summer.
The new ID system will most likely end up affecting how you file taxes online next year, as the tax deadline to submit 2021 returns this year is April 18 for most people. However, if any extensions are made or you need to utilize the agency's online tools and applications this summer or beyond, you'll want to take note of the change.
According to the IRS, people can use their credentials from the old system to sign in for most applications until this summer, when ID.me will be fully implemented. Existing accounts only need an email and password for access currently, per UPI. "You won't be able to log in with your existing IRS username and password starting in summer 2022," the agency warns, noting that taxpayers are "prompted to create an ID.me account as soon as possible."
There is some backlash against the IRS implementing ID.me.
Not everyone is ready to give into the new IRS system, however. Notable security blogger Brian Krebs reported that when he created a new ID.me account to access online IRS services, the sign-up process was both time-consuming and glitchy.
"Successfully verifying your identity with ID.me may require a significant investment of time, and quite a bit of patience," Krebs wrote in a Jan. 19 blog post. "For example, stepping away from one part of the many-step application process for a little more than five minutes necessitated another login, and then the re-submission of documents I'd previously uploaded."
Others point to problems ID.me has experienced in the past. In June 2021, Vice reported that the system had failed to identify unemployment benefit applicants in various states that required it, noting that they also ran into trouble trying to reach anyone from the company to fix the issue. But the IRS has said that there are plenty of other ways for taxpayers to file their tax returns if they don't want to make and utilize an ID.me account.
"The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company," an agency spokesperson said in a statement, per UPI. "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."