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When Sending Tax Returns, e-Filing Beats Snail Mail

SAN DIEGO (MainStreet) — When sending personal information to the Internal Revenue Service, which method feels safer to you: traditional snail mail or electronic submission?

If you answered electronic submission — such as e-filing — you’re among a growing number of people in the United States becoming more comfortable with filing taxes and sending personal information via computer and online.

A few years ago, the IRS actually established a mandate to have 80% of consumers e-filing.

“And they recently surpassed that goal,” says Julie Miller, director of public relations and social media at Intuit’s TurboTax.

According to the IRS, 89% of 2011 tax returns were e-filed.

Miller and others argue that transmitting personal data through e-filing may actually be safer than traditional mail, which can be opened by anyone.

“I guess there are people out there still who just think ‘I’m not sending information that way,” Miller says. “But mail is not all that secure. Snail mail would actually concern me more than sending information directly to the IRS online.”

For the holdout skeptics, who still worry about having personal and financial information stored electronically, it’s important to note that tax preparers such as H&R Block and TurboTax are licensed by the IRS as official e-file transmitters, Miller says. That means they have made a commitment to security and privacy for their customers and that the personal and financial information they transmit to the IRS is encrypted, safeguarding the information.

Not only does H&R Block uses secure servers when transmitting data, says H&R Block Product Specialist Heather Watts, but the IRS receives the information in a secure environment as well. She had advice for people filing via a public computer, such as in a public library.

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