The Internet Revenue Service is Shifting American Taxpayers from A Paper Based Filing System To Electronic Filing¾Is the IRS Offering A Capable System that Protects Taxpayer Confidentiality?


Anthony D. Skidmore


VOL. XIX • Winter 2001 • NO. 2 (table of contents)

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The IRS utilizes Internet technology, such as electronic filing, to aid in the enormous task of processing individual tax returns annually. The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (“1998 Act”) allows signatures to be waived by the IRS or to provide alternative means of signing. Litigation challenging the IRS administration of its electronic filing program to date has been upheld. Recent decisions illustrate the authority the IRS has to set standards for participating in the electroinc filing system. Recent litigation surrounding the validity of refund-anticipation loans has been upheld, despite the annual percentage rate charged. Criminal litigation is also addressed becuase fraudulent returns have been made to obtain refund-anticpation loans. The IRS has responded by revamping its system to increase “criminal and credit checks to help verify applicants’ identities and insure that those with criminal histories do not gain access into the program.” The General Accounting Manager (GAO), who oversees the accountability of federal agencies, has criticized the IRS for falling short of implementing its modernization plan to shift from paper to electronic filing, not to the mention the $4 billion it has spent along the way. The IRS was also criticized for confidentiality breaches of taxpayers.

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