IRS Scraps Facial Recognition Plan Amid Backlash

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is scrapping a plan to require people to verify their identities using facial recognition software to access their information on the agency’s website.

The IRS previously announced it planned to implement a new verification process that required taxpayers to upload a photo ID and then take a video selfie for comparison. It would be needed for users looking to set up an account that would grant them access to prior returns or information about the child care tax credit.

The IRS had contracted with, a company that uses facial-recognition software to verify identity. The agency is not alone; a report from Government Accountability Office found that 18 federal agencies use some sort of facial recognition technology.

Amid backlash from lawmakers and privacy groups, the agency said in a statement on Monday that it will move away from using the facial recognition technology and will come up with other ways to verify taxpayers’ identities.

“The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated. “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 said it would allow taxpayers with existing accounts under the old sign-in process to continue using those credentials through summer 2022.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter earlier Monday, urging the agency to reconsider its use of facial recognition technology, and consider using, a federal identity verification service already used by 40 million Americans for 200 websites from 28 agencies.

Wyden called Treasury and the IRS’ decision to walk away from facial recognition technology a “smart move.”

“I understand the transition process may take time, but I appreciate that the administration recognizes that privacy and security are not mutually exclusive and no one should be forced to submit to facial recognition to access critical government services,” Wyden said.


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