Demystifying IRS e-Services Secure Access Authentication and tidbits for registrants outside the USA
Starting December 10, 2017, all tax professionals and payers who wish to use e-Services must create an e-Services account using a more rigorous identity proofing process called Secure Access Authentication.
Any e-Services user who has not previously created a Secure Access account must validate his or her identity through this more rigorous process. This new process is not optional on the part of the IRS or its online users. Here’s how Secure Access helps:
First, it strengthens the initial identity proofing process to make sure the person registering is who they say they are.
Second, it strengthens security through a two-factor authentication process for returning users that helps prevent account takeover by cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication means you must have your credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent to your mobile phone or generated by your IRS2Go app each time you log in.
Once you have authenticated your identity and established a Secure Access account for e-Services, there is no further action required. Please note: Under Secure Access, you can no longer script the login process.
So, step one is to go to IRS.gov TaxPros section and register for your Secure Access account by clicking on any e-Services product or service.
To reach e-help Desk telephone 512-416-7750 for international calls (1-866-255-0654 doesn’t work)
You will need some information about yourself to register:
Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
Tax filing status
What if I have a Foreign Address?
Use the address that matches your most recently filed tax return. Enter your city, county, province, or other jurisdiction in the 'City' field. There is no field provided for your zip/postal code. Enter a foreign address as shown in the example below:
Address Line 1
1010 Eagle Dr
Address Line 2
Country (first thing - get this to drop-down)
IRS doesn't comment whether these must be US or can be foreign. To verify your identity, IRS will need a number from ONE of your financial accounts. IRS can use any of the following:
Credit Card OR
Mortgage or Home Equity Loan OR
Home Equity Line of Credit OR
You will only need to provide the loan account number or a few digits from a credit card number. We only use this information to verify your identity. You will not be charged any money and are not sharing any account balances or other financial information with us.
A soft inquiry will show up on your credit report to let you know that the IRS accessed your credit report information. This will not increase or decrease your credit score and lenders will not be able to see this.
If you have placed a credit security freeze with Experian, you must contact Experian to have the freeze temporarily removed before continuing. Once registration is complete, you may contact Experian to resume the freeze.
IRS needs one more way to verify your identity. The easiest way is with a mobile phone. Your phone must be:
- A U.S.-based mobile phone number registered in your name
- Able to receive text messages
It may NOT be Pay-As-You-Go (prepaid), landline, Skype, Google Voice, or a virtual number.
If you don't have a mobile phone meeting those criteria, you can complete identity verification by receiving a letter in the mail. To complete registration, you will still need a U.S.-based mobile phone capable of receiving text messages, or an iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Reasons You May Fail Registration
Various conditions may prevent you from registering to access an IRS online service. We can’t identify the specific reason your attempt failed due to the secure nature of the authentication process. See the “alternatives to online services” section below for other options. The most common reasons your registration may fail include:
Your personal information didn't match our records for your SSN and the latest tax return you filed.
Solution – If you filed a paper return within the last three weeks or so, we may not have this information in our records yet so you could try entering data from your prior return. If you recently filed your first tax return, we suggest you refer to our Alternatives to Online Services below.
The financial account number you entered didn’t match our check with Experian, a credit reporting company. You may also have tried to use a debit card, corporate card or American Express card, which we can’t accept.
Solution - You should wait 24 hours if you think you can provide the correct information. Be sure to verify the financial account number you used or choose another financial account type.
You placed a credit security freeze on your Experian credit report preventing us from verifying the financial account and mobile phone number you gave us.
Solution – Request Experian temporarily lift your credit freeze so you can continue to register. There may be a fee to do this depending upon the state you live in and there is no guarantee that this will ensure your successful registration. Use the Experian date range option to lift the freeze temporarily while you register.
Your name wasn’t on the mobile phone account for the number you provided. This can occur when you are on a “family plan” and you aren’t the account holder or if you have a “pay as you go” plan.
Solution – You can choose to receive an activation code by mail that will take 5 to 10 days for delivery. This will delay your online access but allow you to create an account for future use. If you were trying to get a transcript and you filed a joint tax return, your spouse may attempt to register [assuming the phone account is in their name] and make the request instead.
You made too many attempts within a short time period.
Solution – We limit the number of authentication attempts you can make over a short time period. Be careful when entering your email code, phone text code, or other information and validate data first with your existing records. You should wait 24 hours if you think you can provide the correct information or refer to "Alternatives to Online Services" below.