Filer Finds Another Tax-Software Flaw

INTUIT Inc. said March 24 it fixed the latest flaw in its MacInTax software that could have let a savvy computer user tamper with the tax returns filed by its customers. The new flaw was revealed just a month after the company corrected several others in the widely used tax-preparation software.

''We heard of it for the first time [March 22] from a customer who called our technical-support center. In less than 24 hours, we made the computer inaccessible to users for any purpose other than to deposit a return for electronic filing,'' Intuit said.

Still, 7,000 MacInTax customers were exposed to having their federal or state income tax returns read and conceivably tampered with, although Intuit said it believes none were tampered with or removed.

The flaw was discovered when a MacInTax customer found a debugging code in the MacInTax program that could be used to access a host computer that temporarily stored all the filed tax returns. The host computer, operated by Intuit subcontractor Nelco Inc. of Green Bay, Wisc., receives the filed returns to send to the Internal Revenue Service. The customer called Intuit and notified a major newspaper by electronic mail.

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