REDMOND, Wash., April 7, 2004 — With the approach of April 15, a record number of U.S. taxpayers will file their tax returns online this year. More than 45 million taxpayers have already filed their taxes online in 2004, a 12 percent increase over last year. Home computer users alone have submitted nearly 11 million tax returns online, a 22.9 percent increase over 2003.
Online filing offers taxpayers a number of benefits. Tax software can simplify the process, clarify which forms are needed, often provides troubleshooting tools and can enable faster returns routed directly into a bank account. For most Americans, that means less time and frustration preparing their returns, even if it doesn’t guarantee a refund.
Tax season also means that people are consolidating a significant amount of personal data and sending that data across Internet connections. The combination of sensitive data and online communication makes this the ideal time for computer users to improve the security of their computers and personal data.
Safeguards can be facilitated through three simple steps, performed regularly, outlined in Microsoft Corp.’s Protect Your PC campaign. Together these steps can help protect consumers from contemporary computer threats:
First, users should install an Internet firewall such as the Internet Connection Firewall in Windows XP or a similar firewall available from other security vendors. That can help prevent outsiders from gaining access to a user’s computer through the Internet.
Second, users should ensure their computer is up to date. Users of Windows can do that automatically by downloading recent Microsoft security updates at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ .
Third, users should install antivirus software to help improve the security of their computing experience.
Additional information on Protect Your PC guidelines can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/protect/ .