The IRS will introduce an app for Apple (AAPL) iPhones and for handsets that use the Google (GOOG) Android OS. The software will be called IRS2Go and will be a free download. "This new smartphone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want, when they want it," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman commented. "As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information." Among the uses of the new app is the ability to check the status of refunds.
The IRS added that "For people who e-file, the refund function of the phone app will work within about 72 hours after taxpayers receive an e-mail acknowledgment saying the IRS received their tax return." Seven out of 10 individual tax filings were done electronically last year.
The agency also announced that taxpayers can sign up to follow the IRS Twitter news feed: @IRSnews. This service will allow people to track updates to IRS tax news.
These new approaches to accessing personal IRS data will almost certainly raise questions about security. Hackers have been able to compromise the security of a number of applications. The IRS app will no doubt be a target. Apple and Google have tried to keep up with hackers who have worked their way into operating systems and downloads, but the number of rogue software engineers seeking to unlock security codes is usually large and skilled.
The IRS has had to monitor and audit tax cheats for years. Now the agency gets to chase people who want to compromise its new download and social media offerings.