IRS will require facial recognition for tax filing


It was announcement January 28 that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will soon require taxpayers to use facial recognition software to verify their identity. This is part of a partnership between the IRS and— a facial recognition company that’s been around for about a decade — in hopes of reducing the number of fraudulent claims for state and federal benefits that have spiked during the pandemic.

The IRS and have since explained what this means for citizens and how we will be affected this tax season and future seasons. had the first claims they don’t use a powerful facial recognition technology known as the one-to-many model, where a photo is matched against a large database versus a person matching their own photo. However, as first identified by CyberScoopit just wasn’t true.

The dangers of facial recognition technology have been covered before, with the main concern that facial recognition is more likely to misidentify people of color. This means that people of color are more likely to have their benefits suspended because failed to identify them correctly, which can spell huge problems for low-income families.

Currently, the verification process on requires taking a photo ID photo and then taking a selfie with a smartphone or computer so the two images can be compared. Until now, this process was only optional for those who filed their taxes directly on the IRS website.

However, those who wish to use certain tools, such as requesting an online transcript or viewing information about tax payments or economic impact payments, must register with ID. me, then use facial recognition verification to gain access to this information. tools.

Since the announcement and recent discovery of’s practices, the Treasury Department is reconsidering its reliance on the company’s facial recognition software, according to Bloomberg. The ministry said it was looking for alternatives, but did not say why.

Only the business is reconsidered, not the act of verifying facial recognition itself. While a company that uses a one-to-one comparison model is likely to be more accurate, it doesn’t solve the same problems with using facial recognition technology at all. All facial recognition models, whether comparing two images (one to one) or comparing through a database (one to many), are consistently less accurate in people with darker skin tones.

Although the IRS requires this form of verification to access the tools, those who already have an account through the IRS can continue to use the old system this tax season.

An important question remains: is there an alternative to filing a tax return and paying taxes without having to go through a facial recognition process?

The answer is Yes, but it’s not the most convenient option. People who don’t want to go through the account setup process must use the traditional pen and paper method, in addition to sending a check directly to the government.

It’s not the answer many want – and it can be extremely confusing for those who have filed their tax return on paper for the first time, or extremely expensive for those seeking tax assistance through H&R Block or other tax providers. taxes. But, unfortunately, these are the only options. It’s unclear how this requirement may affect other online services such as TurboTax, but it’s likely that an account will soon be required to file taxes.


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