IRS unveils 1040 Central site

IRS 1040 Central Web site

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IRS e-file Web site

The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2004 tax filing season this week by offering a new online service that offers what IRS officials say is nearly everything that taxpayers will need to know for filing their 2003 tax returns electronically or on paper.

The online service also provides information on avoiding the season's latest tax-filing scams.

Taxpayers can reach the service through a Web page, called 1040 Central, at the IRS.gov Web site. Among other things, the page offers links to the agency's electronic-filing service and to IRS Free File, a no-cost service provided by manufacturers of tax preparation software. Last year, more than 2 million taxpayers used the Free File service, IRS officials said.

This year, 53 million taxpayers will use the agency's own e-file service, officials said. E-file gives taxpayers step-by-step information on filing a tax return online and keeping track of any refund owed.

Looking forward to the 2005 tax season, the IRS said it will stop accepting unencrypted submissions of tax forms or documents sent to its enforcement processing systems and to two IRS state systems, whether the data is sent across dial-up or dedicated lines. The state systems are in Austin, Texas, and Memphis, Tenn.

Instead, the agency will require that transmissions to those systems be secured with 128-bit encryption keys included in Secure Sockets Layer Version 3.0 software, which is part of most operating systems today. For e-filers, the cost of the added requirement will be minimal, officials said.

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