The IRS announced today the launch of an online application that will assist taxpayers with straightforward balance inquiries in, what it calls, a safe, easy and convenient way.
The new tool allows taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, which will include the amount they owe for tax, penalties and interest. Taxpayers may also continue to take advantage of the various online payment options available by accessing any of the payment features. The IRS anticipates that other capabilities will continue to be added as they are developed and tested.
“This new tool is part of the IRS’s commitment to improve and expand taxpayer services by providing additional online taxpayer options,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new ‘balance due’ feature, paired with the existing online payment options, will increase the availability of self-service interactions with the IRS. This will give taxpayers another way to take care of their tax obligations in a fast and secure manner.”
Is it safe to open a portal to some of the most confidential and valuable information the government has on individuals? That remains to be seen. The IRS claims that this is a very secure tool, but in an age where hacking from foreign countries is now routine, is it secure enough?
Before accessing the tool, taxpayers must authenticate their identities through, what the IRS is calling, the "Secure Access" process. This is a two-step authentication process, which means returning users must have their username and password plus a security code sent as a text message to their mobile phones.
As part of the security process to authenticate taxpayers, the IRS will send verification, activation or security codes via email and text. The IRS is warning taxpayers that it will not initiate contact via text or email asking for log-in information or personal data. The IRS texts and emails will only contain one-time use codes.