February 06, 1995
IRS Tests Electronic Filing
for Some Computer Users
WASHINGTON - Personal computer users may find it easier this
year to do their taxes. The Internal Revenue Service has announced
new opportunities for on-line filing of tax returns as well as for
retrieving federal tax forms and publications on a personal
CompuServe is offering electronic filing to its subscribers now,
and America Online (AOL) expects to offer it later this month.
Subscribers should check with their on-line service about required
tax preparation software and transmission fees.
To file on-line, a taxpayer must transmit a completed return
file to an on-line service, which converts the file from the tax
preparation software's format to the format meeting IRS
specifications for electronic filing. The on-line service must then
transmit the return file to the IRS. The IRS will notify the
taxpayer through the on-line service whether the return is accepted
or, if not, which items the taxpayer must correct.
After the IRS accepts the return, the taxpayer must mail
directly to the IRS, along with any W-2 forms, a signed Form
8453-OL. This form is a one-page signature document available for
downloading from the on-line service.
Bach on-line subscriber may transmit up to three income tax
returns -- for example, a married couple could transmit their joint
return and the returns for two of their children.
Electronic filing offers greater accuracy, acknowledgement that
IRS accepts the return, and the convenience and security of having a
refund deposited directly into a person's bank account.
Last year, the IRS tested on-line electronic filing with
CompuServe in a nine-state area, and about 300 taxpayers
participated. This year, the on-line test is nationwide, and has
been expanded to 30,000 returns.
Personal computer users not filing electronically through
CompuServe or AOL may still shorten their paperwork and choose
direct deposit for their refunds by using the 1040PC option offered
in many tax preparation software programs.
The 1040PC is a condensed format return that shows the line
numbers and entries only for those lines on the tax form that the
taxpayer uses. The resulting printout is a three-column list that
can reduce a return to two pages. Standard computers and printers
produce the 1040PC on plain paper.
The IRS is also making hundreds of its most popular forms,
instructions and publications available electronically. Three
on-line services -- CompuServe, AOL and GEnie -- as well as
FedWorld, a government bulletin board, now have these items
available for both return preparers and individual taxpayers.
Subscribers can ask their on-line service for details on
accessing the IRS information. The forms and publications are
available in various file formats, including HP Laserjet, HP Printer
Control Language, Postscript and PDF. For those who don't already
have the software for any of these formats, the online services and
FedWorld offer free Adobe Acrobat software to read and print the PDF
format files in Windows or Macintosh. Users must print the tax forms
to use them -- the forms are not designed to be filled out
FedWorld is accessible directly by modem at 703-321-8020. Once
connected, a user should access IRIS, the Internal Revenue
Information System. On the Internet, a user should telnet to
fedworld.gov or -- for file transfer protocol services -- connect to
ftp.fedworld.gov. Users of World Wide Web services should point
their Mosaic client or other Web browser to http://www.fedworld.gov.
FedWorld's help desk offers technical assistance during business
hours at 703-487-4608.
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