This story is part of Taxes 2023, CNET's coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.
If you haven't filed your 2022 income taxes yet, it's time to get moving. You've got a little less than month until the tax day deadline, and the average taxpayer takes 13 hours to finish their tax return. One thing that can make the process a little faster and easier is an online IRS account.
Registering online with the IRS takes a little time, but it's worth it. Once you've accessed the IRS system, you can get the info you need to file electronically this year -- like your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from last year's taxes -- as well as full transcripts from previous tax years.
Learn more about the benefits of creating an IRS account online and how the registration process works. For additional tax info, discover the best tax software for 2023 and how to file your taxes for free.
Why should I create an online account with the IRS?
The biggest reason to create an IRS account is to quickly look up your personal tax data. Once registered, you can access a wide array of your tax information, including:
- Your adjusted gross income
- Details of your latest tax return
- Payment history for past five years
- Amount of taxes currently owed
- Digital versions of some IRS notices
- Tax professional authorizations
Along with viewing your personal tax information, with an IRS online account, you can make payments online, go paperless for certain IRS notices and approve authorization requests from your tax professional.
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 creating an IRS online account just in case you run into a tax issue or problem in the future. It's better to have an account already created than be forced to register online during the stress of a tax difficulty already in progress.
What info do I need to create an online IRS account?
Creating an IRS account online takes about 15 to 30 minutes, if everything goes smoothly. Before you start the process, you'll need to collect a few documents and information. Here's what you will need:
- A valid email address
- Your mailing address
- A US passport, passport card or state driver's license
- Your Social Security number or tax identification number
- A mobile phone registered to you
If you don't have a mobile 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 about 10 days to arrive and will be valid for 30 days.
How do I register with IRS.gov?
The IRS offers a number of routes to access a new registration. The easiest way is to visit the Your Account Online page of the IRS website. To start the signup process, click the blue "Sign in to your online account" button.
Once the waiting page redirects, you'll be taken to a page asking you to login into an existing ID.me account or existing IRS account, or to sign up for a new ID.me account. ID.me is a third-party identification service that is now required for all IRS accounts.
The ID.me registration should take about 15 minutes and requires photos or scans of your ID document -- click the ID.me Create an account button outlined in green to proceed.
For a full explainer on 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 pick a password.
2. Next, confirm your email address.
3. Now enable multifactor authentication with your phone.
4. Choose ID verification: Self-Service with "video selfie" or Video Chat with ID.me agent.
5. Upload pictures 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, authorize IRS access to ID.me verification.
Once you have authorized the IRS to access your ID.me information, your online IRS account should be up and running, and you should be able to access all the information and functionality provided by the IRS.
Some users of the IRS online account and ID.me have reported a common error message after registration: "A condition has been identified that's preventing your access to this service."
If you receive this message, the IRS recommends waiting and signing in later. If you continue to repeatedly receive the error message over time, you'll need to click the "view your alternatives" on the error page to resolve your issue by phone or mail.
How do ID.me and the IRS verify identity?
ID.me is a third-party "identity verification" company that works with the IRS, the Social Security administration, Department of Veterans' Affairs and 27 state governments, primarily for unemployment benefits.
The IRS started using ID.me for identity verification as a pilot program in 2017 and has expanded it since to encompass all new accounts. IRS users who created online accounts before the implementation of ID.me can still use their accounts for now, but they will need to register with ID.me by the summer of 2022. The IRS has not yet given a specific date on which old accounts will need to switch over to ID.me.
ID.me and the IRS recently received much criticism for the mandatory video selfie -- a required registration step that involves facial recognition technology. Politicians and advocacy groups argued strongly against the practice, saying a private business should not be collecting biometric data on millions of Americans. They also noted that facial recognition technology has been demonstrated to have higher false positive rates for Black and Asian faces.
In February 2022, the IRS announced a "transition away from use of third-party verification involving facial recognition" and said that it would develop a new identity verification process that does not require facial recognition.
The agency followed up two weeks later with news 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 the video chat interview now comes early in the IRS account sign-up process (No. 4 in the listed steps above).
Learn more about ID.me and the possible risks and benefits of the identification service.
Can I make an online IRS account for my business?
The IRS has not yet enabled business accounts via its online portal. Its online account FAQ notes that the "IRS plans to develop an online account for business taxpayers in the future, enabling 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.