Tax season is coming! And some people are finishing up their federal and state income tax returns in large numbers.
They eventually will complete the paperwork and have it prepared for submission. If you prepare your taxes online or with the help of online accounting, you might be tempted to send tax documents by email. It is simple, easy, and convenient you can save time and you will be able to meet your next tax deadline.
The real question is: is it safe to email tax returns?
Although via E-mail is faster, you may encounter some difficulty in securing the sending of tax documents. In most cases, email is not secure to send tax forms for the purpose of protection and privacy of information. Instead, the IRS recommends that you fax your documents to the applicable government agency or use a secure method such as a locked mailbox to distribute these sensitive forms.
Cybersecurity risks are higher than ever. Sensitive data is more in danger than ever in the age of phishing, malware, password hacks, and other scams, and your tax documents are not an exception when it comes to being vigilant about protecting your confidential information.
There are various ways you could be placing tax papers in danger without you realizing it, from simple human errors to unsafe software systems to insufficient retention standards.
Why It’s Vital to Protect Your Tax Records?
It cannot be overstated how crucial it is to keep your tax return forms safe from theft. These are some of the consequences of not being careful when sharing documents digitally as email attachments.
1- Thieves Can File a False Tax Return.
It is crucial to note that utilizing your social security information to file a tax return is one of the ways these criminals use your stolen tax return forms to commit tax refund fraud.
Your social security number is on your tax form, and these thieves will obtain it from the tax return forms they steal. These thieves will also obtain your name, and birthdate, which is all that they required to file a tax return in your name. This gives them the opportunity to file a tax return in your name using false W-2 information.
2- It Would Take a Lot of Time to Resolve the Issue.
Most of the time, the taxpayer is unaware of the scam until they go to file their tax return and discover that it has been filed in their name.
Even though the thief can be caught, it will take a long time to solve the problem. In some instances, problems bordering on tax return fraud may not be resolved for months, which could cause problems for the taxpayer. It can cause the taxpayer to experience an emotional, physiological, and bodily breakdown.
3- Is Limited What the IRS Can Do in This Regard Fraud.
It is important to note that despite the improvements in security measures implemented by the IRS to combat or prevent tax return fraud, it is still proving challenging to stop the actions of criminals every tax season. This means that there are limitations to what the IRS can do in this area, therefore taxpayers must take additional precautions to protect themselves from tax return fraud.
It is quite scary to think that you could be the victim of fraud. It is better to be safe than sorry and your tax forms are one of the riskiest documents most people will ever handle because they include everything that an identity thief needs to seriously disrupt your life.
How To Send Documents Securely to My Accounting Team Or Consultant.
There are many ways to share your tax documents. The best way for you depends on your needs and preferences but you must keep in mind that security is your top priority.
Hand Deliver Documents.
It’s challenging to beat the traditional, in-person handoff when it comes to security but in the digital age, it’s not the most seductive option.
In-person handoff eliminates the need for a middleman, if you’d prefer, you may make it a digital handoff that takes place in person, for example, the old school CD with your scan documents, a USB, or a memory card.
But is it really feasible in the fast-paced work that we live in right now? Given that everything is instantly available in today’s world and that virtual meetings have become commonplace, it is getting more and harder to find time to meet in person and not everyone has access to this option, it could happen that you don’t live in the same region as your bookkeeper.
People are increasingly turning to remote specialists and accountants for assistance during tax season, it is cheaper, less complicated, and saves you some valuable time.
Still, this is the hard-to-swallow pill! There is no other more secure way than giving your tax preparer a hard copy of your paperwork. Your hand extended to your tax preparer, there isn’t much that is more secure.
But even when delivering physical documents is the safest way, does not mean that you should deprive yourself of all the benefits of finding assistance with your taxes online, so you probably don’t have the option of giving them the information in person. There are better security practices and alternative delivery methods worth considering than email. You just must find a way to deliver your documents digitally in the safest way possible.
Send Secure Tax Records Online.
Best Practices for Email Attachments.
We have already mentioned that we do not recommend the option of sending documents as an email attachment but there are times when you don’t have a choice and must send sensitive information via email. The good news is, there are things you can do to reduce risks.
Here are some tips on how to send secure documents via email:
1- An Attachment Password Protection:
Most Word processors have tools for password-protecting documents.
2- Encrypt the Attachment
In the settings menu for new messages on most popular email services like Gmail and Outlook, users can choose to encrypt attachments.
3- Encrypt All Email Content:
Most widely used email platforms can end-to-end encrypt email messages and, consequently, their attachments using the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) concept.
Ultimately, you will have to make a risk-benefit assessment for each document requiring an email attachment prior to sending.
Online Tax Filing Services.
You may reasonably trust online tax filing services if you’re preparing for the income tax filing season. These service providers provide common, modern information security elements like SSL/TLS encryption, regular external security audits, industry-standard firewalls, two-factor authentication for access to sensitive information, and more.
Furthermore, online fillable form services stress client protection and privacy concerns on their websites – all thanks to government regulations such as HIPAA and California’s SB1386. Online tax filing services market themselves as companies you can trust, although sometimes larger ones also have an image of being able to handle extreme traffic volumes with little or no performance degradation.
File Collection Platform.
File collection Platforms are a great option for sending documents securely, they have a range of features to make it easier for you to share and store documents directly in cloud storage, rather than scattered through an inbox in the prying eyes of hackers.
In addition to internal information security standards, these solutions eliminate intermediary email servers and can offer better encryption in transit and storage. The highest level of document protection may be provided if you have this option.
File Request Pro as a File collection Platform offers to store your financial documents securely without compromising their privacy of them. With our services, you can Store right in the cloud rather than send through email attachments and exchange any document type on demand like Word, Excel, or pdf via a download location link for your tax preparer.
Give or denied access only to who you need to see the stored documents per file, with one click or automatically via a reload button.
If you have this choice, it can offer the highest level of document security.
Keep Your Data as Secure as You Can.
Even following all the protocols there is always a small chance of falling victim to one of these thugs if you send your files via email. So, it is best to take all possible precautions and if you discover that you have been compromised, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) very away.
In fact, whenever you believe that you may have been compromised, you should alert the IRS. The IRS will investigate it. Use Form 10439 to notify the IRS that anything is wrong if fraud is stopping you from correctly submitting your taxes.
Take all your precaution and good luck in the next tax season!