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Tax Time Tips

Well it's that time of year again—the snow is melting, the temperature is rising, and the trees are starting to bloom. It's the special moment we've been waiting for all winter long…tax time!

If finagling with your finances isn't your idea of a good time, or you're one of the thousands waiting until the last minute to file, these tax-time tips may be just the jolt you need to dive in before the April 15th deadline. We'll show you a few simple ways to keep your personal information safe, get organized, and start filing with confidence.

Get motivated

If the work of wading through your financial information makes you break out in a cold sweat, try to stay focused on the bright side—a decent sized chunk of change could be headed your way! Get a rough estimate of your refund, even if you're not ready to file with a tax calculator like the Turbo Tax Tax Caster. Answer a few basic questions, and this free app can provide an estimate in just about five minutes—no paperwork required. And if there's anything that makes a tedious task worth doing, it's the promise of a great reward.

Stay protected

When you file your taxes online, your information is kept between you and the IRS. For that reason, experts say efiling isn't just convenient, it's also the safest way to file. But while doing taxes in the digital age may be easier than ever, it's also created new opportunities for digital tax fraud and identity theft.

With access to personal information like social security numbers, criminals can file fake W2s and cash in on your refund. And without any fingerprints or signatures, it becomes a lot harder to prove a fraudulent claim. So what precautions should you take?

Before you begin filing, be sure your computer is protected with up to date security software like Webroot Secure Anywhere Internet Security Plus, which touts password encryption, Identity Shield, and protection for all your mobile devices. Keep your most sensitive documents on a password-protected device, free of peer-to-peer software and unrestricted web access, and never share personal information over an unsecure network—look for the padlock and "https" preceding your browser's web address.

File with ease

Many tax preparation companies have made their professional tools available on the web, but if you're a tablet user or want to file on the go, there are a few great apps that make mobile filing a breeze. Tax apps for tablets are generally built with greater functionality, which may be essential for more complex returns, but if you're filing a basic claim, apps like Turbo Tax SnapTax or H&R Block 1040EZ can help you file in a flash, right from your smartphone. Most tools don't require you to make a purchase until you're ready to file your return, so you can compare different products, see which promises the best refund, and find the best bang for your buck.

Prepare for the year ahead

Before you start your celebratory refund spending, take a moment to plan for the year ahead. With apps that track your spending, donations, and other potential deductions, you'll save yourself a few headaches, and may even have some fun in the process!

Snap a quick picture of each of your receipts with your smartphone, and Shoeboxed will keep it all organized. Once imported, the app will archive all your receipts by date and categories like meals, fuel, entertainment, and travel. iDonated it is another great app developed by a group of CPAs to help you keep track of charitable donations which can be easily deducted down the line. And with Webroot Mobile and Tablet Security software for iOS and Android, you can rest easy knowing all your mobile devices are protected, no matter which financial apps you choose.

While we consider ourselves web security rock stars, we here at Webroot are not tax experts. We recommend contacting a professional with your tax questions and financial planning needs.

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