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IRS Internet Site Offers More Services to More Customers

By Raymona Stickell

The Internal Revenue Service has beefed up its Internet site to provide critical information to key stakeholders in the private sector.

Tax Professionals Corner

The Tax Professionals Corner (look under "Electronic Services") links to items on the Digital Daily page that are helpful to the tax professional. We want to make this easy for tax professionals to find everything they need. The Digital Dispatch e-mail list server allows users to sign-up to our e-mail service and receive the latest news. Itís part of our continuing efforts to offer the taxpaying public easy assess to important upcoming tax dates, whatís new on our web site, new tax forms and publications, news releases, and special IRS announcements. We have signed up over 20,000 subscribers so far.

Many Media, Many Services

Tax practitioners, state governments, and payroll accountants can obtain the easy-to-use IRS CD-ROM tax products. The IRS fax system allows those without computers to retrieve a last minute Extension to File or other tax forms and information. Taxpayers may also choose to retrieve tax information from our electronic bulletin board system. Using a central text and graphics repository of core business information, based on international standards, Electronic Information Services has made it easy to publish tax information in a variety of electronic media on a daily basis. From this central repository, the IRS publishes to Internet, electronic bulletin board, CD-ROM, and fax systems. For example, a tax form that is ready to print at 5:00 p.m. will be automatically loaded to the IRS Internet and electronic bulletin board systems in less than 24 hours from the repository. Millions of taxpayers benefit from these services.

Taxpayers who access information or downloaded files donít have to call on the telephone to order and wait a week or more to receive tax forms and publications, but get them in minutes -- electronically. We even had customers access our services from ships at sea. The IRS information is downloaded and used by many professional associations, commercial tax services, tax software developers, state governments, printers, universities and public libraries who redistribute the information to millions more. The electronic information services are available 24 hours a day and are updated daily, so taxpayers can be sure of getting the most current tax forms.

Frequently-Asked Questions and Other Services

Taxpayers and tax practitioners like the convenience of getting tax information they need. Beyond forms and publications, there are answers to frequently asked tax questions, information resources for persons with disabilities, tax regulations, a where to file map of the states, and an electronic tax calendar. We took great care to test the on-line systems to ensure accessibility by visually impaired and blind users.

Electronic Services Cost Less

These services have provided better customer service and reduced the burden to the taxpayer by making forms available at the touch of their fingertips. The online services are less expensive than other methods of distributing tax forms and information. Our costs for taking forms orders by telephone and mailing them to taxpayers are approximately $3.00 per customer. On the Internet, customers can be served for just pennies each.

About the Author

Raymona Stickell is National Director, Multimedia Production Division, at the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, DC. You may contact her at (202) 622-7000.

February 1999