This from our pal Joe Kristan who grinds away at the Tax Update Blog:
It’s not enough that you’ve done business with me forever. I need some ID. The invaluable Russ Fox yesterday threw light on new requirements for electronic filing from the IRS. These requirements, found in their new Publication 1345, were issued with no public comment period or consultation with practitioners, as far as I can tell, and they sure look that way.
Let’s start with clients who come into our office – a minority of my clients, by the way, as most of my clients either mail in tax information or send it electronically. Words are from Publication 1345, but emphasis is mine:
The ERO must inspect a valid government picture identification; compare picture to applicant; and record the name, social security number, address and date of birth. Verify that the name, social security number, address, date of birth and other personal information on record are consistent with the information provided through record checks with the applicable agency or institution or through credit bureaus or similar databases.
So I have clients I have been working with since 1985. When retired gentleman comes in, a little slower than last year, with his cane, but still as charming as ever, I have to say “hold it right there, partner. You may look like the client I’ve been working with for 28 years, but you might be a clever shape-shifting alien scum looking to defraud our government. I need to see some picture ID. Then excuse me while I call the credit bureau.”
We can only suppose this is yet another regulation intended to solve a problem (identify theft through tax refunds) that causes another problem (having to ask ancient clients you've known for longer than I have been alive if they are, in fact, who they claim to be).