Tax returns make tracks online

Taxpayers soon will be able to keep track of their tax returns online, as the Internal Revenue Service enables them to confirm that a return has been received and check when a refund will be mailed.

This is just one of several new electronic services that will be offered to taxpayers in the 2002 tax season as the IRS introduces new products to enhance communications with its customers.

"This coming tax season takes away all the reasons not to file electronically," IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told a conference of the Council for Electronic Revenue Communication Advancement Nov. 7.

The IRS intends to initiate a Web-based feature to track the status of a tax refund so taxpayers "won't have to call us up," Rossotti said.

Rossotti said the new enhancements are part of the tax agency's modernization plan that is designed to take the IRS from a paper-based system to a paperless one.

"We have moved well beyond the target phase," Rossotti said.

Among the new features that taxpayers can expect next year:

* A personal identification number (PIN) they can select themselves.

* Electronic payments with a credit card, including payments on an installment plan.

* Electronic communications between a tax preparer and the IRS to resolve tax return questions completely online.

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