Surveys show that many Canadians remain leery of punching in a credit-card number to buy a book off the Net. So if Amazon.com still makes you blanch, how about doing your taxes totally online?
Two companies are betting many Canadians will go for it. Intuit Canada Ltd., Canadas leading tax-software supplier, offers an online service called QuickTax Web, a spinoff of its popular QuickTax software. And Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Taxamatic Inc. touts the online version of its Taxwiz program, marketed in partnership with Yahoo Canada.
The QuickTax approach is simple enough, says Paul Ingram, Intuits business unit manager. Instead of buying the latest tax software and installing it on your computer, you can simply log onto www.quicktaxweb.ca. When users log off, Intuits servers save the data. Taxpayers can try the service first by completing an entire return. Only when it’s time to file electronically to Ottawa does Intuit request a credit card to pay the $19.95 for an individual’s returns. Taxwiz, found at www.taxwiz.ca, operates similarly, but charges $9.95 up front for a single return. Both services can then use Ottawa’s increasingly popular NETFILE system to
file the returns online, vasdy speeding up the refund process for those eligible.
Security, says Ingram, is on everyone’s mind. All QuickTax data is encrypted, including the user’s password, so that even system administrators can’t see who’s filing, he says. And if storing your personal tax information on someone else’s computer makes you nervous, after filing you can delete everything. “It’s what we call your tax blob,” says Ingram, “and it’s all your tax information. Delete that, and it’s all gone.”
Scouring Salt Lake
Security at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City has at times taken so long that venues have been left half empty for events. But despite delays, the Games have become a showcase for high-tech crowd-sifters. The local West Valley City police department is testing six Ibis face and fingerprint recognition systems. Made by New Jersey-based Visionics Corp. and Cogent Systems Inc. of California, the hand-held scanner allows police to capture face and fingerprint images. These are whisked wirelessly to headquarters and compared with criminal databases. ReAn Ibis check suits take three minutes.
Police say the data is erased if there’s no match. If there is one, it could mean missing the next event.
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