IRS modernization improving service

GAO report: IRS Modernization: Continued Progress Necessary for Improving Service to Taxpayers and Ensuring Compliance

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The Internal Revenue Service's modernization program continues to make major inroads in delivering better service to taxpayers, but the IRS will not meet its 2007 deadline to have 80 percent of all taxpayers filing online, a new General Accounting Office report said today.

Instead, the tax agency can anticipate having 61 percent of all taxpayers filing online if the current rate continues, the report said.

"Slower growth in electronic filing will reduce IRS' ability to shift resources out of paper return processing," GAO said.

Nevertheless, taxpayers are having an easier time reaching the IRS by phone and increasingly are using the tax agency's Web site to download tax forms and check the status of their refunds.

Computer systems security remains a problem, the report noted: "Longstanding computer security weaknesses continue to threaten the confidentiality, integrity and availability of sensitive systems and taxpayer data."

In the past five years, Congress has appropriated $1.35 billion for business systems modernization. They have also fully funded IRS' annual budget requests each year during that period.

"The service improvements mean that the congressional oversight efforts made by IRS managers and employees, and dollars invested in modernization are beginning to show payoffs that American taxpayers can see," the report said.

But the IRS must continue focusing on modernization or it will "put the progress made to date at risk," the report said.

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