2 Weeks Until Tax Day: How to Set Up Your IRS Account Online


If you have lost your child tax credit or dunning letters, you can find the information online.

Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part Taxes 2022CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything you need to file quickly, accurately and on time.

Tax deadline — April 18, 2022 — is only a few weeks away, and it’s time to declare your taxes (or one tax extension). The IRS has already issued nearly 58 million tax refunds at an average of $3,263. You can get your tax refund in about 21 days using direct depositbut you will need to complete your tax return first.

Although deadlines have not been extended due to COVID-19, the pandemic has created a number of tax changes that make it more difficult to file taxes in 2021. You will need to reconcile everything stimulus check and child tax credit payments last year on your tax return, and you will need specific letters to do so.

If you cannot find these IRS notices or if you lost your AGI 2020, do not worry. You can still find all the information you need to file your taxes this year using an IRS account online. Account requires registration with ID.mea third-party identity verification service, but once you get there, you’ll have access to valuable tax data and IRS tools.

Read on to find out why you should create an IRS account online, what you can do with an account after you register, and how the registration process works.

For more information on filing income tax, see the best tax software for 2022How? ‘Or’ What file your taxes for free and 13 tax credits and deductions you don’t want to miss.

Why should I create an IRS account online?

The most obvious reason to create an IRS account is to quickly see your personal tax data. Once registered, you can access a wide range of your tax information, including:

  • Your adjusted gross income
  • Details of your last tax return
  • Payment history for the last five years
  • Amount of taxes currently due
  • Economic Impact Payment Amounts
  • Child tax credit prepayment amounts
  • Digital versions of some IRS notices
  • Professional tax authorizations

In addition to viewing your personal tax information, with an IRS online account you can make payments online, remove paper for certain IRS notices, and approve authorization requests from your tax attorney.

You can get instant copies of tax records like transcripts of past tax returns and wage and income statements. With an online account, you can also request an Identity Protection PIN to add an extra layer of security to your tax records.

Tax experts advise setting up an IRS online account in case you run into any tax issues or problems in the future. Better to have an account already created than to be forced to register online during the stress of a tax difficulty already in progress.

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What do I need to open an IRS account online?

Creating an IRS account online takes about 15-30 minutes, if all goes well. Before starting the process, you will need to collect some documents and information. Here is what you will need:

  • A valid email address
  • Your mailing address
  • A U.S. passport, passport card, or state driver’s license
  • Your social security number or tax identification number
  • A mobile phone registered in your name

If you don’t have a cell phone or don’t want to connect your number to your IRS account online, you can request an activation code by mail. The code will take approximately 10 days to arrive and will be valid for 30 days.

What steps do I need to take to set up my IRS online account?

The IRS offers a number of routes to access the record. The easiest way is to visit the Your Online Account page of the IRS website. To start the registration process, click on the blue “Log in to your online account” button.


A new IRS hold page could affect registration time.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

The IRS recently added an interstitial page for online accounts. We had to wait about 2 minutes for a temporary loading page to redirect to the registration form. As we get closer to the April 18 tax deadline, this waiting time could get worse. Again, we recommend creating an online account now, so you don’t get frustrated trying to sign up in April.

Once the hold page is redirected, you will be redirected to a page asking you to sign up for an ID.me account. ID.me is a third-party identification service that is now required for all new IRS accounts.

ID.me registration should take approximately 15 minutes and requires photos or scans of your ID — click the ID.me Create an account button outlined in green to continue.

For a full explanation of the ID.me registration process, please see our detailed ID.me walkthrough. Here are the basic steps:

1. On the ID.me page where you create your account, enter your email address and choose a password.

2. Next, confirm your email address.

3. Now enable multi-factor authentication with your phone.

4. Choose identity verification: self-service with “video selfie” or video chat with the ID.me agent.

5. Upload photos of your ID.

6. Take and upload a “video selfie” or wait an hour or two for a video chat interview.

7. Enter your social security number.

8. Finally, allow IRS access to ID.me verification.

Once you have authorized the IRS to access your ID.me information, your IRS online account should be up and running and you should be able to access all of the information and features provided by the IRS.

Some IRS Online Account and ID.me users have reported a common error message after registration: “A condition has been identified that prevents your access to this service.”

If you receive this message, the IRS recommends that you wait and log in later. If you continue to receive the error message repeatedly over time, you will need to click “View your alternatives” on the error page to resolve your issue by phone or mail.

What is ID.me?

ID.me is a third-party “identity verification” company that works with the IRS, Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and 27 state governments, primarily for unemployment benefits.

id me

In addition to verifying identity for the IRS, ID.me also verifies military members and students for discounts.


The IRS started using ID.me for identity verification as a pilot program in 2017 and has since expanded it to encompass all new accounts. IRS users who created online accounts before ID.me was implemented can still use their accounts for now, but will need to register with ID.me by summer 2022. The IRS has not yet given a specific date when old accounts will have to switch to ID.me.

ID.me and the IRS have recently received widespread criticism for the mandatory video selfie – a mandatory registration step that involves facial recognition technology. Politicians and advocacy groups have strongly opposed the practice, saying a private company should not collect biometrics from millions of Americans. They also noted that facial recognition technology has been shown to have higher false positive rates for black and Asian faces.

On Feb. 7, the IRS announced a “transition from the use of third-party verification involving facial recognition” and said it would develop a new identity verification process that does not require facial recognition.

The agency followed two weeks later by announcing that taxpayers registering for IRS accounts would have the option of a “video chat interview” instead of the automated facial recognition step. The decision to use the video selfie or video chat interview now comes early in the IRS account registration process (#4 in the steps listed above).

Learn more about ID.me and the possible risks and benefits of the identification service.

Can I create an IRS account online for my business?

The IRS has not yet enabled business accounts through its online portal. Its online account FAQ states that “the IRS plans to develop an online account for business taxpayers in the future, allowing businesses to easily and securely manage their federal tax obligations.”

Business owners can currently make payments or schedule estimated payments online using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.


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