Encrypting a client document before sending it via email or another file sharing mechanism provides an extra layer of security and helps ensure that only the intended recipient will be able to view the document. Adding a layer of password protected encryption is even more important when sending documents that contain sensitive, private information. IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: A Guide For Your Business, notes: "If you must transmit sensitive data by email over the Internet, be sure to encrypt the data."
TaxSlayer Pro Premium users can use PaperCut to securely send encrypted tax documents to their clients without leaving TaxSlayer Pro. If you use the Classic version of TaxSlayer Pro, you can also encrypt tax documents using a file archiving tool called 7-Zip. It's free for both individual and commercial use.
View the "7-Zip Attachment" video below for a demonstration of how to use 7-Zip to encrypt and password-protect a document. After following this procedure, you can send the document to your client via email and send the password separately, such as by phone or text. Sending the document and password in separate communication channels ensures that compromising one account doesn’t result in the attacker gaining access to the document you provided the client.
Note: These instructions assume you are using Microsoft Windows 8.1 or newer.
7-Zip is available for download here. At the top of the Download page you will download the ".exe" file for either "7-Zip for 32-bit Windows" or "7-Zip for 64-bit Windows x64". If you know your Windows system type is 64-bit, select the 64-bit ".exe" Download link, otherwise select the 32-bit Download link.
To find our your system type, right-click the Windows Start menu and choose System. You will see the system type under "Device Specifications".
Open the file that downloaded and click Install. When it finishes installing, click Close.
Follow these instructions to encrypt a document:
- In Windows, locate the document you wish to encrypt and send. For example, if you printed a tax return to PDF and saved a copy to a folder called "Tax Returns" on the C drive, open a Windows File Explorer window and navigate to
- This PC (Windows 10) or Computer (Windows 8.1)
- Local Disk (C:)
- Tax Returns
Optional: Click the “Show password” check box to double-check the password you entered.
The file is now ready to be sent to your client. If using email, attach this file to the message you are sending your client, then call or text the client to provide the password.
If you would like to check your work to verify the file encryption was successful, do the following:
- Double-click the zip file to open it.
- Double-click the file (or folder) within. You should be queried for the password.
- Enter the password. A correct password will open the document.