Privacy Concerns Lead IRS to Drop Facial Recognition

Protecting taxpayer data from scammers and preventing identity theft tax refund fraud has long been a chief concern for the Internal Revenue Service, and pursuing this mission lead the agency to form the Security Summit. While the agency has worked tirelessly alongside state officials and private members of the tax industry to spread awareness of data-security issues and provide guidance on best practices, recently planned efforts to better secure accounts have been abandoned following criticism.

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Last week, it was reported that the IRS would begin requiring third-party facial recognition verification to access certain tax information via online accounts this summer. This news caused some members of Congress to raise concerns about taxpayer privacy, ultimately resulting in today’s announcement by the agency that they will be abandoning the program. Despite this setback, the IRS notes that they will look into other methods for securing these accounts that will not affect filing season.

“The transition will occur over the coming weeks in order to prevent larger disruptions to taxpayers during filing season,” the IRS explains. “During the transition, the IRS will quickly develop and bring online an additional authentication process that does not involve facial recognition. The IRS will also continue to work with its cross-government partners to develop authentication methods that protect taxpayer data and ensure broad access to online tools.”

The IRS closes the release by assuring that this process will not affect filing season, encouraging taxpayers to “continue to file their taxes as they normally would.” Once the agency announces their chosen alternative verification method, we will provide an update on Taxing Subjects.

Sources: IR-2022-27; “The IRS plan to require face scans raises concerns about privacy and security,”; “Want information from the IRS? For some, the agency wants a selfie,”

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