Herein, two columns, one written when the IRS had really bad plans for the summer, the second written after the IRS scrapped the bad plans. (Links to full columns are embedded in each headline.)

Faceless technology shouldn’t see our faces (Jan. 31):

Congress ought to introduce and pass stand-alone legislation blocking the IRS from requiring a face scan from people accessing the website.

This is not complicated. What the IRS is trying to do is a massive invasion of privacy and an open invitation to error and abuse of the sort that frustrated taxpayers may have an almost insurmountable challenge to rectify. At a time when the IRS already is woefully understaffed and incompetent, the new requirement is a prescription for disaster.

Beginning this summer, anyone wanting to log in to the IRS website will be required to submit to facial recognition scanning for just about all purposes other than filing their own returns. To access their own online tax accounts, or to check the Child Tax Credit Update Portal, the face scan will be needed. The scans will be managed by a private technology company called

Critics worry that this is just one more way for personal information to be hacked — and also just one more way for technological glitches to create hellish experiences for innocent taxpayers….

IRS does a wise about-face (Feb. 8): In a rare win for privacy, common sense, and liberty, the IRS this week scrapped plans to make taxpayers use a computerized facial recognition system to access their online accounts. …

As of Feb. 7, those concerns have been allayed. The IRS will not implement the system this summer after all. “The IRS takes taxpayer privacy and security seriously, and we understand the concerns that have been raised,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

So far, so good, but that’s not to say the IRS isn’t still a hot mess….


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