In June 2023, the IRS officially transitioned to using ID.me to verify taxpayers’ identities before providing access to specific IRS applications. If you previously relied on legacy login methods, you’ll need to make sure you’ve created an ID.me account and verified your identity before tax season begins! Here’s what tax preparers should know about using ID.me.
What is ID.me?
ID.me is an identity verification service that offers secure and easy identity proofing online. The IRS has integrated ID.me into its applications, requiring individual taxpayers and tax professionals to verify their identities before accessing certain applications through the IRS website.
Avoiding tax fraud and tax preparer identity theft
Identity thieves use tax season as an opportunity to steal identities and fraudulently claim tax refunds, and no one is a bigger target than tax professionals. As a tax preparer, you’re not only responsible for safeguarding your clients’ information; you also need to protect your own identity to help prevent tax fraud and identity theft.
To address this challenge, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has partnered with ID.me, a leading identity verification service, to provide a secure and efficient way for tax preparers and taxpayers to verify their identities. If the IRS suspects that a return may have been filed fraudulently, they may send a 5071C or other letter to the taxpayer in question, asking them to verify their identity through ID.me and then answer a few questions about the tax return to confirm whether it was filed legitimately.
How do you use ID.me for tax preparers?
Tax preparers will use ID.me in the same way that any taxpayer would. Fortunately, the process is simple, user-friendly, and only takes 5-10 minutes. To verify your identity, taxpayers and tax professionals simply create an ID.me account and provide the following:
- Photo ID: You’ll be asked to upload pictures of a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport.
- Video Selfie or Video Chat: ID.me incorporates advanced facial recognition technology, which prompts users to take a video selfie. This adds an extra layer of security by confirming that the person presenting the documents is indeed the individual in question. Your video selfie and the biometric data collected from it will be after your identity has been confirmed.
- Alternatively, you can opt for a video chat with an ID.me representative. In response to concerns about the collection of biometric data and user privacy, the IRS worked with ID.me to offer this option for those who do not want their biometric data collected through a video selfie. (Note: You may spend extra time waiting for a representative.)
- Personal Information: You’ll provide some personal information such as your name, address, and Social Security Number, which will be cross-referenced with the documents provided.
Once this process is completed, taxpayers and tax professionals gain secure access to IRS
Benefits of using ID.me
An added layer of security for tax preparers and clients
Tax preparer identity verification through ID.me adds a significant layer of security to the IRS website, making it extremely challenging for fraudsters to impersonate tax professionals. For taxpayers, ID.me helps prevent thieves from filing false returns and stealing refunds. When identity thieves do manage to file fraudulent returns, these returns can now be identified and stopped quickly since the taxpayer can easily verify their identity and answer questions about the tax return online.
By integrating ID.me, the IRS streamlines the login process, making it more convenient for users. You’ll only have to undergo the verification process once, then you’ll be able to log in quickly and easily. Ultimately, ID.me saves time and reduces the frustration of repeated authentication procedures.
Versatility across other websites
After successful verification, users can use their ID.me accounts not only with IRS applications but also across various government websites and private sector partners wherever the ID.me green button is visible. This offers a consistent and reliable method for accessing different online services securely.
ID.me also enables military veterans, first responders, and teachers to access exclusive discounts from over 500 retailers. This benefit, in addition to shopping at over 4,000 partners on ID.me Shop, creates an additional incentive for users to adopt and utilize this identity verification platform.
With the constant threat of tax preparer identity theft and tax return fraud, the collaboration between the IRS and ID.me offers an important safeguard for taxpayers and tax professionals. As a tax professional, you’ll need to make sure you’ve verified your identity through ID.me before the start of tax season. Doing so is simple, fast, and it helps protect you and your clients from data and identity theft.