Hundreds of years after a minor increase in the duties paid on tea goaded American farmers and craftsmen to take on the greatest empire in the world, these colonials’ descendants are being told to hand over something much more personal than money.
In addition to the taxes expected to be handed over and responsibly spent by the government, the Internal Revenue Service will soon require Americans to submit biometric data to access their accounts.
Starting this summer, creating an account on the IRS website will require a photo of your government identification as well as a video for facial recognition purposes to be submitted to a third-party company.
“The IRS emphasizes taxpayers can pay or file their taxes without submitting a selfie or other information to a third-party identity verification company,” the agency said in a statement.
“Tax payments can be made from a bank account, by credit card or by other means without the use of facial recognition technology or registering for an account.”
Don’t run to thank the taxman yet — your personal biometrics must be handed over to access functions on the IRS website. Without this access, taxpayers may not be able to see their tax transcripts or check on payment agreements.
Even applying for a payment plan, creating a security PIN and viewing stimulus check status will be impossible without the personal data.
If this unsettles you, it gets worse.
The government’s need to know everything about you, down to the minor contours of your face, isn’t going away any time soon, it seems.
Taxpayers and others are being warned to create an account soon. The service is expected to grow and become a requirement for many other applications.
Unfortunately, a government contract and no competition do not appear to be the best incubator for a quality product. Major problems have already been reported with the system that could seriously hurt people’s finances.
Many have faced issues getting their identity verified. Some have had to wait for months while verification takes place.
While waiting for this to happen, services like unemployment payments are not provided to the person entitled to them.
The company asserts that there are remedies for these problems, including video calls with “trusted referees,” employees able to connect with citizens to work out issues.
Regardless of any issues, it looks like this verification system will only become a more integral part of the government and force ordinary people to go above and beyond to prove their identity.