February 10, 1997
Electronic Filing for Personal Computer Users
WASHINGTON - If you have a
modem, you can file your tax return from your personal computer through the Internal
Revenue Servicežs On-Line Filing Program. Last year, 158,000 taxpayers filed their
returns this way.
To file by computer, a taxpayer first completes the tax return
using IRS-accepted software. Such software may be found at computer stores or downloaded
from participating Web sites. The IRS Web site -- www.irs.ustreas.gov -- has a list of
accepted software for the On-Line Filing Program. This list is also on the IRIS at
FedWorld bulletin board, accessible directly by modem at 703-321-8020.
The taxpayer transmits the completed tax return file to the
on-line filing company, which converts the file to the format meeting IRS specifications
for electronic filing. The on-line filing company then transmits the return file to the
IRS. Within 48 hours, the IRS will notify the taxpayer through the on-line filing company
if the return is accepted or, if not, which items the taxpayer must correct.
After the IRS accepts the return, the taxpayer mails any W-2
forms to the IRS along with a signed Form 8453-OL. This one-page signature document is
provided by either the tax preparation software or the on-line filing company.
Each on-line taxpayer 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. Some software packages also offer on-line filing for state tax
Electronic filing offers greater accuracy, acknowledgement
that IRS accepts the return, an earlier refund and direct deposit of the refund to the
taxpayer's checking or savings account. A taxpayer who owes additional tax still has until
April 15 to send the payment.
The IRS does not charge anything for On-Line Filing, but the
on-line filing company may charge a small transmission fee. Because of program changes
that have reduced work for these companies, fees are generally lower than last year. The
tax preparation software packages have details on affiliated companies and fees.
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