Navigating the new tax apps - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Navigating the new tax apps

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

The new tax app used on a smartphone or tablet sounds like a simple solution, but is it safe?

From airline tickets to shoe shopping, more people are turning to a handheld device to do business.

"I do mobile banking and a lot of things on my phone.  We hardly touch our desktop at home anymore," said Jennifer Crom, of Concord, NE.

"All the apps really do make life easier now a days," added Judy McCabe, of Bronson, IA.

"You have a computer in your pocket or on your belt that's more capable than the computer you had ten years ago," pointed out Briar Cliff University Network Director Darrin Fangman.

As far as personal security concerns, Fangman says an app isn't any less safe to use than a computer website.

"A well designed app should use the same encryption that a website does," he explained.

About half a dozen tax apps have come out in the past year.  They're all driven by technology that turns pictures into pdf files.

"So, the question is, is that data still in your device," said Fangman.

Because, a phone is a lot easier to lose than your desktop computer.  You wouldn't want this kind of personal information slipping into the wrong hands.

"It was not available in the gallery, so at least in the standard place where pictures are stored it wasn't there," he said.

That's good news for anyone who has a hard time keeping track of their phone.

"What I can't say is whether or not it's stored deeper in some file structure somewhere," Fangman added.

Since, the apps are still new there are some issues to be aware of. 

"The W-2 form is arranged differently so some of the data was able to be captured and some of the data was not," said Fangman when he tried to upload is own W-2.

His advice: double check that all of the information off your W-2 was captured correctly. You may have to enter some manually.  Also, the app only works with simple returns.

"For example, I'm not eligible to use it because I own my own home.  If you have capital gains or loses I don't believe it will be able to handle that as well," pointed out Fangman."

"But, it is a great idea, and if you didn't have real complicated taxes it would be something real easy to do," said McCabe.

"I would never do my taxes by phone because I want somebody to look it over," said Kathy Walker.

There may be an app for that, but not everyone is ready to replace the person with the personal device.

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