Tougher security for online tax filing

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If you haven’t filed your taxes and you file online, you should know that you’ll face increased security measures when you prepare your taxes in 2016.

IRS, states and the tax-preparation industry enacted several measures for the 2015 tax season that ends April 18, 2016, to try to stem a rising number of fraudulent tax filings. Most of the measures are behind the scenes. However, what you’ll notice is that tax-preparation companies increased the security protocols before you can access their free or paid products.

The changes consist of a new password of at least eight characters that includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numerals and special characters; the addition of three security questions; and verification of email addresses. In addition, the online services have a timed lockout feature and a limited number of unsuccessful log-in attempts.

Experts whom we interviewed say the changes should add only a few minutes to the time that it takes consumers to file their taxes online.

“It depends on the individual situation,” says Rob Gettemy, who is the chief operating officer of TaxAct.com. Some might already have strong passwords and security questions, so the changes might add only 30 seconds, he says.

Gettemy and representatives of Intuit, which runs TurboTax.com, and tax-preparer H&R Block say the new measures didn’t affect the price of any of their products.

Julie Miller of Intuit acknowledges that more measures will be forthcoming in later tax seasons. “What we put in today will be an awesome start for this tax year, but it will not be enough,” she says. “There’s still a significant amount of work to be done.”