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IRS DirectPay and Headache

In recent quarters I have been paying the IRS using their convenient system for making electronic payments directly from our checking account. Yesterday, however, the process became more than a headache. The IRS and other federal agencies have teamed up with a private enterprise,, to “facilitate” the payment process and also to prevent fraud. In brief, to establish your identity you must jump through the usual hoops, including a text message, to get to the hard part. You receive a SMS from instructing you to take really good cellphone photos of the front and back of an official ID that has your picture (driver’s licence). The software is really picky and the process is confusing. Once you get through that secret door, you are told to take a selfie, the purpose of which is to compare your haggard face with the likeness on your licence. Lighting, distance, and camera angle must be just so. I was tired and irritable after working on my tax returns for some time, so maybe my experience is tainted. In the event, it took me two extended tries to get to the point where I was approved, receiving an email to commemorate my success. Then I got to cough up the big bucks, either for a balance due or for estimated taxes.

If you are paying your federal taxes electronically and do not have an approved identity, plan to spend some extra time. The state of MI has not adopted this system. To pay state income taxes here one enters info about last year’s return and some personal info to verify your identity and then you can instruct your bank to pay on a chosen date. I use TurboTax. This year one can opt to have TT request the payment for a balance due as late as 4/18/22. There is no involved with this option.


  • edited April 2022
    Hi @BenWP

    Thank you for sharing this for others here to be aware.

    We got to the point of electronic filing (we always owe them, calculated to the point of no penalty due); and have decided to revert to "USPS mail" again. Yes, I have to go to the post office; as we send this type of transaction via Certified Mail/Request Receipt and the cost is about $8. We're not going to do the song and dance with the third party you mentioned. The IRS won't mind scanning our paper check.
    I do understand the "fraud" potential they are attempting to limit. But, I/we don't want more of our personal data parked in another server.
    Several years ago we received mail from the IRS noting that someone had attempted to be "us" regarding our tax return. Didn't make sense to the aspect of there not being any refund involved. We presumed this was a broad-based attack on the IRS system with hackers trying whatever. We now receive (January) a six digit P.I.N. for each of us that has to be entered in the 1040. Also somewhat related was an attempt from others to begin my wife's Social Security withdrawals.
    We have our electronic devices protected (hopefully) running vendor provided anti-virus programs, in addition to MalwareBytes (more malware/virus scanning) and VPN (Virtual Private Network).
    The VPN has to turned off for some non-sensitive sites I look at regarding investing and a few other sites that think our I.P. address is spyware.
    I've been involved with technology since 1967, and prefer this investment area based upon my knowledge and experiences; but the technology that allows us to do so many things today comes with the "hazards", too.

    Take care,
  • A check in the plain old regular mail has worked for us for fifty years. NOBODY gets access to the checking account.
  • Hi @Old_Joe
    Excellent point about access to an account type that is basically not protected with recourse for recovery of loss of funds due to identity theft. Or at the least, a pain in the arse for any recovery.
  • Many good points made on security. I did not want to overload my tale with detail, but others may relate to the following. Our USPS deliveries and pickups have become so erratic that I have lost faith. The 12 houses on our street, served by a row of mailboxes, get service 3 or 4 times in a good week. For outgoing mail, particularly my occasional EBay sales, I have started taking items to the P.O., some 6 miles distant. Otherwise outgoing mail might sit from Thursday to Tuesday. We last got mail last Thursday and none has arrived today as of 2 PM. This is one reason I have gone electronic. Another is a Schedule K-1 due in March late March that has not arrived. I was able to get the trust company to email it yesterday so taxes could be done before we go on a trip.
  • @BenWP- I can understand the frustrations with your erratic USPS mail service. Fortunately for us, there's a corner pickup box one block away and the local PO is just a couple of blocks away. USPS service here is actually very good.
  • Does the Direct Pay problem affect refunds?
    My 2022 refund was promptly completed, in February, to my CU checking account, as it has been for several years.
    I file using an online service and use E-file.
  • @Rossby
    I helped with the electronic filing for two folks. In both cases, they had a refund and chose a direct deposit into a CU account. NO required for this. The only difference from normal paper filing is that a 5 digit P.I.N. had to be created.....being whatever they wanted. I will assume this would be part of a protective I.D., in the event of funny stuff taking place.

    The below link (general search) indicates the IRS dropped the selfie pic and perhaps other items. Scroll down the list, to find a report from this February. changes
  • @Catch22: if I understand correctly, the selfie route can be avoided by an interview with an agent. The selfie choice is presented as being faster.
  • Thanks, Ben, for that info. We'll be doing the paper check again this year.
    Have a pleasant time with your warm air journey.
  • "Thank you for sharing this for others here to be aware." Yes, indeed. My take on it all is that these offices and agencies arrange things so that we, the consumer of services, are doing THEIR work FOR them. I would not go near such a thing. indeed.... Fart.
  • edited April 2022
    I still print and mail everything. Plan every year to owe just under $1,000 (federal) which I cover with a single check. After the Roth conversions, however, I printed out a bunch of IRS payment coupons from online and mailed them along with a check quarterly. Sounds like a simple matter made difficult through technology. Wishing @BenWP good luck in resolving.

    Maybe related - I sought to save a drive to the local PO by buying a sheet of postage stamps online from USPS. Never arrived. Never shipped. And I found it impossible to login to my “account” with them and cancel the order (under $15). Meanwhile, PayPal kept a “hold” on my connected bank account for that small amount for over a month until I finally prevailed on them to drop it.
  • Yesterday, right on schedule, the IRS collected my balance and estimated taxes. My Schwab account absorbed the punch. I thought for a moment the market had set a new low, just looking at my overall balance. I moaned and groaned, but the process worked.
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