- By Judi Hasson
- Aug 28, 2000
Although 34 million Americans filed their income tax returns online
this year, most of them paid a fee to do it. Now Robert Barr, assistant
commissioner for the Internal Revenue Service's Electronic Tax Administration,
wants to know if electronic filing should be free, and he's asked people
in the public and private sectors to send him their thoughts.
To eliminate the fee, the IRS would have to eliminate third-party tax
preparation software or pick up the cost of it. And if software companies
eat the cost and offer the service for free, what exactly would they expect
in return from the IRS? Comments are due by Sept. 22 and can be e-mailed
Hat in Hand
When Congress returns to work Sept. 6, federal chief information officers
will be looking to reap the benefits of President Clinton's 2001 budget
proposal to increase the IT security budget by 15 percent. "Thus far, not
a dime," said Joshua Gotbaum, executive associate director and controller
of the Office of Management and Budget. If Congress doesn't get moving soon,
lawmakers will have to roll all budget requests into a temporary measure
to keep government going.
The Long Arm of Al
Vice President Al Gore may be hard at work campaigning for president,
but his office still insists on reviewing all press queries to the National
Partnership for Reinventing Government, Gore's baby for streamlining federal
government. That means when you call NPR to talk about technology or anything
else, the press office must check with the vice president's office to get
the green light before commenting. The term "micromanaging" just may have
been coined for this presidential candidate.
It's in the Mail
Another e-mail hoax has reared its ugly head, warning that Congress
is considering legislation that would allow the federal government to collect
5 cents on every e-mail. The government, according to the phony message,
is attempting to "quietly push through legislation" that would allow the
U.S. Postal Service to bill e-mail users.
Sound familiar? It should. In May, the House repudiated a fictitious
bill proposed by a fictitious congressman to levy a fee for each minute
Internet users were connected online. In response, real House members passed
H.R. 1291, which prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from imposing
any per-minute user fees for hooking up to the Internet. Rep. Billy Tauzin
(R-La.) takes on both hoaxes at www.house.gov/tauzin/NOinettax.htm.
VA Goes Electronic
The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying out an interactive online
program that will enable U.S. military veterans and some service members
to apply for compensation, pension and vocational rehab benefits. The VA
hopes to speed up services to vets and eliminate dreaded and time-consuming
trips to VA offices.
Eventually, the VA may expand the Internet service to other claimants,
including dependents, and later this year plans to add an online form for
education applications. Check out the Veterans On Line Application at vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp.
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