Letter to the editor

The solution to increasing the number of e-filers is for the Internal Revenue Service to provide a convenient and free electronic method for filing tax returns.

The first step is for the IRS to set up a secure Web site where people could upload files through a secure connection. Authenticity could be established through personal identification numbers, as is done currently. Sending the files via e-mail could also work, because there are free encryption programs available and the IRS could provide a public encryption key.

The simplest solution for creating the tax files would be for the IRS to publish a simple electronic data format for tax forms. That would enable freeware, shareware and commercial solutions for creating the necessary data files.

Alternatively, the IRS could provide fill-in electronic forms in which the data could be entered manually or imported from a data file whose format is published by the IRS.

Talk about competing with private enterprise is a joke. Congress, with its myriad tax laws, has created the entire tax preparation industry. And Congress should provide a free electronic solution that is available to all taxpayers, just as there are free paper forms. Or perhaps taxpayers should start paying private enterprise for the paper forms as well.

Robert Karlsen

U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Command

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