IRS: E-file goal is a stretch

Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service has made great strides in increasing the number of taxpayers filing returns electronically, but the tax service must show significant increases if it is going to meet the 2007 deadline of having 80 percent of all returns filed electronically, the IRS commissioner said.

That requirement will be difficult but is still within reach, said IRS Commission Charles Rossotti.

The 1998 IRS Restructuring and Reform Act mandates that the IRS receive 80 percent of all tax returns electronically by 2007. The IRS will have to increase the number of electronic returns by 20 percent each year to achieve that goal, Rossotti said.

"The IRS' overarching goal is to conduct most of its internal and external transactions by electronic means," Rossotti told the House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee last week. In the 2001 tax-filing season, more than 29 million individual taxpayers had submitted their returns electronically by March 15, up 10 percent from the same period last year, Rossotti said.

By comparison, the IRS reported that more than 35 million taxpayers filed electronically in 2000, making up about 28 percent of all individual returns, a 20 percent increase over 1999's numbers.

This year, the IRS added 23 tax forms to its 1040 "e-file" program. And next year the IRS will make 38 additional forms and schedules available, thereby making 99.1 percent of all taxpayers eligible for the e-file program.

The IRS is also looking to boost the number of businesses that can do business online. Rossotti said that the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System this year processed more than 63 million tax payments, a 14 percent increase.

IRS officials said they have taken steps to ensure that taxpayer data filed electronically is safe. Robert Dacey, the General Accounting Office's director for information security issues, said the IRS corrected several previously reported weaknesses and is implementing a computer security management program that should help the IRS manage risk.

Electronic tax filing is a cornerstone of IRS' modernization. "A robust [e-filing] system helps form the foundation of a modernized IRS," Rossotti said.

Dorobek is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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