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Tuesday February 25, 2020

Washington News

Washington Hotline

Virtual Tax Service Safety

Millions of taxpayers are gathering data and preparing to do their returns. Many are using smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices to file. A growing number of taxpayers this year will use virtual tax services to complete their returns.

Several large tax-preparation companies offer a virtual service. Many taxpayers appreciate the convenience of using a smartphone for tax return preparation. There are multiple benefits for virtual tax preparation services.
  • Convenience — There is no need for you to appear in person. Use a smartphone to scan and send W–2 Forms and other tax preparation documents. Your virtual service contact will prepare your tax returns based upon the forms you submit.
  • Contact — Your tax return is completed by a member of the staff of the large tax-preparation company. The virtual service staff will usually have training similar to the other staff who are working in person with taxpayers.
  • Communication — Most companies offer the ability for you to communicate with your tax preparer through a secure computer or phone line.
  • Cost — There are different plans and costs for an individual, a parent with children or a business owner. Most companies have an added cost to complete a state tax return. All costs should be disclosed when you start the tax return process.
  • Timing — After you upload your W–2 Forms and your related tax documents, most companies will complete and be ready to electronically file your return within 5 to 10 days.
  • Security — Your documents can be transferred through a secure messaging platform. Most companies use two–factor authentication with an authentication code sent to your smartphone. You should ask for a basic overview of the security features when starting the tax return process.
Editor's Note: Several companies now offer virtual tax service. You can use your favorite search engine to locate a "virtual tax service" vendor. Because virtual tax services are a fairly new concept, it is best to work with a large national company. These large national companies all have a security team that is continually exploring ways to reduce risks for taxpayers.

Published February 21, 2020
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