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Facebook Messenger for Income Tax Filing

February 14, 2015

Facebook-Messenger

Facebook Messenger is the dominant instant messaging service used by younger adults who increasingly use their cell phone as the primary device for electronic communications. It is possible to combine use this platform to combine various forms of communications including voice, text, video, photo and image documents. I’ve focused the development of an online income tax filing service specifically around the capabilities of Facebook Messenger. This post serves as an abstract of my results of a recently completed internal report on Security and Privacy Issues of Facebook Messenger.

Lack of Citations

While most of my blog posts include citations or list additional resources, this one does not because I may offer services on this topic through a client consultation engagement.

General Background

IRS authorizes the use of paperless tax filing for some filers through its e-file system and prescribes standards for professional tax return preparers related to security, privacy, professional standards and electronic signatures.

Security

Facebook does not use an end-to-end encryption that would offer the highest level of security. Still, published reports indicate that security is adequate and there are no widely published reports of application-specific hacking.

More secure web-based platforms are available to tax clients at no additional charge. Yet I suspect that many filers would decline to use more secure alternate platforms because of the slight inconvenience factor.

Privacy

When Facebook Messenger launched in early 2014, there were many reports of privacy concerns. Since then, most publications rebuke those concerns. Facebook Messenger is at least as secure as web-based email.

The conclusion of my report is that Facebook Messenger is suitable for communications related to some individual income tax return preparation services. It is possible for a taxpayer to complete the tax filing engagement entirely through Facebook Messenger in a safe and legal manner.

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