Tracking taxes

As part of its modernization program, the Internal Revenue Service is launching a program that will enable taxpayers to track the status of their returns online and learn when their refund checks will be mailed.

John Reece, the agency's chief information officer and leader of the Business Systems Modernization program, said the IRS is testing the service in a pilot project for taxpayers who use the 1040EZ form. It will be available to all taxpayers beginning in January 2003.

"We are taking all of the innovations we have and making them available," Reece told the Council for Electronic Revenue Communication Advancement at its spring conference.

The service is one of several modernization projects being launched under a multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort to turn the paper-based agency into a paperless one while providing more services for customers.

Last summer, the agency launched an automated telephone service that enables taxpayers to get answers to their questions more quickly. The IRS also has put in place a secure infrastructure platform.

Reece said the IRS will be "liberating the master file" by putting 6 million to 8 million tax returns into a database. Eventually, the database will replace a tape-based system that has been used since the 1960s.

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