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, ID.me, 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 ID.me 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 ID.me 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 ID.me involved with this option.