IRS Backs Off Requirement Taxpayers Have Postpaid Cell Phone to Register for Serivces

Earlier this summer the IRS, in restarting various electronic programs where unauthorized persons had established accounts to access taxpayer data or obtain reissued IP-PINs to file fraudulent returns, the IRS had added new procedures that included a requirement that a taxpayer establishing an account had a post-paid cellular phone.

After the Social Security Administration received complaints that many seniors did not have cell phones to be used for a similar program, that agency backed off the cell phone requirement. Now the IRS also modified the phone requirement to access certain online tools.

In a statement issued August 19 the IRS indicated taxpayers will now have the option to receive the activation code by mail, being sent to the taxpayer’s address of record instead of to the cellular phone.  The IRS now indicates on its website “Secure Access: How to Register for Certain Online Self-Help Tool:”

If you have a pay-as-you-go mobile phone or a business/family plan mobile phone not associated with your name, you may request that we mail an activation code to the address we have on file for you. You still must have a text-enabled, U.S.-based phone to receive a security code text that completes the validation process and allows returning users to access their accounts.

While the notice does not say that the returning security code can go to a prepaid phone, it would appear that such phones will now be sufficient for this purpose.  The use of the post-paid phones initially was to verify the person creating the account was the taxpayer.  Presumably if the taxpayer is now properly verified via a letter with the code, the IRS believes using a prepaid phone for two factor authentication no longer poses a risk to losing control of the account.