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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.