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Is Preparing Your Tax Return Online Safe?

Aug 18, 2007
There are many ads online on companies offering to help you or prepare for you your tax return. But if you are the type who is even afraid to give out your credit card number on some shopping site shouldn't you be scared to give out more information about you such as your social security number, your income, source of interest, dividends, investments, your job data, information about your spouse, children, etc. and other relevant data on the internet?

It is true that there are many hackers online who are out to obtain secure information and files. In fact, there have been reports of IRS not being that secure as well since they have lost returns but these were in the past. But if indeed it is not that safe to be giving secure information online and to be having these online companies prepare your return for you, then these companies shouldn't have existed in the first place.

Many of the online companies offering tax preparation services offer affordable prices for their basic preparation but as your return gets complex then the prices start to rise. A price quote is important before your return is actually processed. At least, you get to back out or decline if you find the price to be steep for your actual budget. You should do this before you transmit your return otherwise you will be subjected to pay for the charges. If the price gets too high, you might be better off meeting with a professional face to face.

It would be wise when having a quote to initially not use your own social security number or actual address for example until you are satisfied with the computations, the process and the price. Only then, should your provide your true data in order to provide the necessary protection early on.

If you must file online, choose companies that are large and established most especially those who have the ability to create and develop sites that are secure. It is also important that they have the pockets to sue in instances when their security has been breached or secured information has been stolen from them. There are actually major online processors with which IRS have made arrangements to offer free services especially for certain taxpayers that need help. IRS also has other Alliance Members.

It is advised that you stay away from companies that have only been in existence for a short period of time. It should have a contact number of their office as well as an address. Search for them online and try to find out if there have been any complaints about their services.
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