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Online tax preparation companies respond to Heartbleed bug

As of the end of March, more than 90 percent of taxpayers who had submitted their 2013 federal returns -- around 82 million filers -- did so electronically.

Heartbleed SSL bugIn the wake of the Heartbleed Internet security concern, however, the millions of us who will be finishing up our 1040s in the next few days are a tad concerned about joining the e-file ranks.

In case you've been diligently working on your taxes and missed the news, the Heartbleed bug affected the encryption tool OpenSSL that is used by around two-thirds of all websites to secure their customers personal information.

Yep, apparently that little lock icon in the bottom corner of our screen and the "s" tacked onto http in the URL was a big fat lie. And it's one that's been going on for two or so years. Our information might already have been compromised, but if it hasn't, we don't want to do anything to help that happen.

We've been told to change our passwords. Sure. We can do that.

But when it comes to taxes and all the personal and financial information that's required to file a return, some of us are a bit trepidatious about putting our data online right now.

Unfortunately, we don't have much time to decide whether to e-file again or switch to paper.

Assurances from IRS, software companies: The Internal Revenue Service says its systems are OK.

IRS Heartbleed Bug statement 040914

Of course, U.S. taxpayers don't file directly with the IRS. As the tax agency notes in its Heartbleed statement, e-filing of taxes is through its software partners.

So what has been Heartbeat's effect on these companies? Well aware that they could lose a whole lot of business in the next few days, they are working to reassure the public that things are OK.

TaxACT, TaxSlayer, FileYourTaxes.com and 1040.com say that the security flaw is not an issue for their systems.

H&R Block says it has not found any risk to client data from Heartbleed. But to be sure, it is "reviewing our systems and taking the appropriate steps to ensure our customers are protected."

Intuit, maker of the popular TurboTax, says it has examined its systems and has secured the tax prep software to protect against Heartbleed.

Feeling better? The IRS and its tax software partners hope so. The agency is seeing more folks e-file this year than ever before. We'll see if Heartbleed slows down that trend.

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