ADP Modernization:

IRS' Progress on the Electronic Filing System

IMTEC-88-40: Published: Jul 13, 1988. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO summarized the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) development and implementation of its Electronic Filing System for tax year 1988, focusing on: (1) system software testing; (2) assistance to tax preparers experiencing problems; (3) enhancements to the computer system that receives returns; (4) preparer participation in the program; (5) equipment and software installation at IRS service centers; and (6) technical and legal issues.

GAO found that IRS: (1) did not achieve all of the expected benefits of electronic filing during tax year 1988 because of unresolved software deficiencies; (2) revised software without the required testing and approval; (3) established help desks to handle preparers' questions regarding their problems transmitting returns and retrieving acknowledgement files; and (4) developed additional software after it bought a computer to receive the returns, to make its output compatible with the mainframe computer. GAO also found that IRS: (1) planned to encourage wider preparer participation by marketing the filing system to more preparers; (2) had not decided how many service centers it would equip to receive and process returns; (3) was considering two alternatives for expediting the review and storage of signature documents through further automation; and (4) was considering whether preparers needed to submit paper W-2 forms with their electronic returns.

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