Every year, many people in the United States file their tax returns online using software that is part of an IRS tax filing program. However, officials are urging consumers to exercise caution if this is something that they plan to do because some tax filing software poses security risks. The warning comes following an audit of IRS tax filing software, which showed that many of the programs were not up to scratch when it came to security.
Anyone who earned under $62,000 last year will be eligible to file their taxes free of charge online using one of the thirteen software options that form part of the IRS program. However, the audit carried out by the Online Trust Alliance means that those who are going to be doing this need to be very cautious. The program has been in operation for thirteen years and around 70 percent of Americans are eligible to participate.
Nearly half of filing websites failed security protocols
The audit that was carried out showed that out of thirteen websites that are part of the IRS program for filing taxes online, close to 50 percent failed security protocols. There were various issues that arose when the audit was carried out such as lack of email authentication, which puts consumers at risk of falling victim to phishing scams.
One official from the Online Trust Alliance said that when the websites were tested they either did really well and passed with over 80 percent or failed altogether. Several of the websites that were tested failed security even the most basic security protocols, reflecting how easy it could be for people to become victims of fraud simply for using online software and websites to file their taxes.
The software websites that are used for filing online taxes are part of the Free File Alliance, which is a coalition of companies in the tax software field. These companies also offer fee based services that are more advances for those who are on incomes that are higher than the $62,000 threshold.
An official from the Free File Alliance commented on the findings by the Online Trust Alliance, stating that its members were tested and evaluated every year to ensure that they were offering the highest levels of security and privacy, However, he added that the findings from the research would be taken into consideration by officials from the Free File Alliance and would be incorporated into future assessments to ensure that users of the software could benefit from peace of mind when it came to security.