IRS Backtracks on Selfie Requirement

A picture of a pen, a 1040 tax form, and a calculator resting atop a bright yellow background.

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The Internal Revenue Service says it will no longer require facial recognition software to be used to verify the identities of taxpayers online.

In January, the IRS announced that it was transitioning away from having accounts use just a username and password at for managing personal tax accounts online. Instead, the IRS said that it planned to use the private identity verification company, requiring users to upload a picture of themselves, to log into their accounts.

But the move sparked widespread criticism, including from some lawmakers, over giving a third party access to sensitive information in a biometric database. Critics also said that it could prompt bias among those with limited internet access.

“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” Chuck Rettig, IRS commissioner, said in a statement. “Everyone should feel comfortable with how their personal information is secured, and we are quickly pursuing short-term options that do not involve facial recognition.”

The IRS has said it will use another online authentication system but says it will not require facial recognition. Taxpayers should file their returns or pay the taxes owed as they normally would this year, it said.

The agency has been seeking technology solutions to try to address a growing number of scammers who have been impersonating taxpayers to claim refunds or impersonating the IRS to dupe people out of information or money.