Personal Finance Carnival #126 is posted
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Coming soon: 'My IRS Account'

Get ready, taxpayers. An IRS official says by summer 2008 we might be able to access our own personal tax data through the agency's official Web site.

At the annual Council for Electronic Revenue Communication Advancement conference, David R. Williams said the IRS is working on a Web program that will allow taxpayers to view three years of prior tax information.

Computer_tax_forms_2 "Wouldn't it be nice if your W-2 was there as well?" asked Williams, the director of the IRS Office of Electronic Tax Administration. "How about changing your address or updating your information?"

According to a report in Tax Notes Today, Williams cautioned there still are some obstacles. The program's specifics are in flux, he said, as is the exact timing.

Then there's that sticky little issue of protecting taxpayer data. Williams stressed repeatedly that security and taxpayer authentication for the proposed online access option is the agency's first priority.

What do we want? Williams also said that the IRS is interested in hearing from taxpayers about what they want in such a program.

"We want to make sure that when taxpayers and users actually come to us, this is useful information and they know how to get to it," he said. "We also have to figure out what is it that taxpayers want first.

"We can't do it all at once, so what are the top priorities?"

An article in Federal Computer Week elaborates a bit on the plan.

The IRS hopes to establish an online, secure set of self-service applications that are similar to those already used by millions to conduct other electronic financial transactions, such as online banking, said Richard Spires, the agency's deputy commissioner for operations support.

Taxpayers will be able to get transcripts of their previous filings and eventually handle transactions such as filing for an extension.

Free_file_logo_2 No direct IRS filing … yet: None of the news reports has any mention of the possibility of the IRS taking over filing duties from the private software companies that now are agency partners in the Free File Alliance.

But keep watching. If the IRS actually does crack the door a bit for us to access our personal tax accounts online, the folks pushing for direct-to-IRS return filing (like the Senate Finance Committee members mentioned in this blog item from July) might just be able to force it completely open.

Many state tax offices already offer their residents this filing option. Details on how those agencies are ahead of the IRS, along with a clickable map to such services, can be found in this previous blog item.


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Kevin Garvey

This is a must. It speaks to transparency. Think of the trees saved in paperwork reduction. I've done everything else online for years (including filing tax returns), so why not this?


This is a great idea. Why shouldnt this be any different from any other account you have. You would think (though this might get you into trouble when it concerns a government agency) that if commercial banks and the like can figure out how to protect online accounts that the IRS could do the same. Now if they could just consolidate all of the information that we have to send into them in April. Maybe a running total of our year to date payments, expected payment for the year, as well as making payments. I see lots of possibilities but the reality of bureaucracy will probably keep this from being all that it can be.

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