Despite privacy concerns, nearly doubled the number of people able to create an IRS account

The new platform makes it easier for more Americans — including low-income earners and minorities — to access their tax information. By March 11, facial recognition data will be automatically eliminated.

Although the IRS is allowing people to opt-out of facial recognition, new account users will still need to use (Patrick Semansky/AP)

If information is power, then many taxpayers are powerless.

Millions of people have filed federal returns that are stuck in a massive backlog, which is holding up refunds and resulted in the automatic mailing of collection notices that may or may not be warranted. They check “Where’s My Refund?” and “Where’s My Amended Refund?” only to find bureaucratically written language that tells them nothing.

What the IRS backlog means for you

The agency’s online account system, as I reported last year, is a hot mess. Fewer than half of the individuals who tried to establish an online account with the Internal Revenue Service succeeded, according to Erin M. Collins, the National Taxpayer Advocate.

To help improve that access record and improve the security in setting up an account, the agency brought in the private company to register people. The launch was immediately criticized because it required taxpayers to scan their faces to create an IRS account.

The IRS backed off that facial recognition requirement, while still moving ahead with the authentication platform. The turnabout is causing some confusion. So, here’s what you need to know if you have a legacy IRS account or need to create a new one with

Eight scary automated IRS notices that are being suspended — for now