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Commissioner calls on more CPAs to file electronically.

Margaret Milner Richardson, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, said she was discouraged that so few CPAs filed their clients, returns electronically. Richardson told members attending the American Institute of CPAs fall tax division conference in Orlando, Florida, that the AICPA Survey of Practitioner Attitudes Toward the IRS, published last April, revealed that over three out of four respondents had never filed an electronic return with the IRS and that one in four who had done so did not plan to in 1996. "This is not good news for those of us at the IRS who are working to reduce paper and expand electronic tax administration," said Richardson.

Edward S. Karl, AICPA director of taxation, told the Journal the AICPA was involved in ongoing discussions with IRS operations personnel to explain how IRS systems could be modified to accommodate CPAs. "Many CPAs cannot take advantage of electronic filing because there are restrictions on the complexity and number of returns that can be filed electronically," said Karl. "The tax practitioner who prepares the most complicated returns is the least likely to be able to file electronically; generally, CPAs tend to file the more complicated returns," said Karl. He also said the AICPA had published Electronic Tax Return Filing Practice Guide in July 1995 to encourage members who could file electronically to do so. The practice guide (order no. 024012JA) is available for $17.50 by calling the AICPA order department at 800-862-4272.

Companies get a head start

The commissioner was more enthusiastic about the number of companies that have signed up early to use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). Richardson said that by December 1996, the IRS had received over 600,000 enrollment forms for EFTPS and that by spring 1997 she anticipated an "explosive growth" in the number of companies using the payment system. The commissioner said she expected even more companies to enroll early when they learn how easy EFTPS is to use,

In 1993, Congress mandated a major increase in the amount of tax revenues that had to be collected electronically. As a result, 1.2 million companies -- all of whom had paid over $50,000 in employment taxes during 1995 -- must begin using EFTPS by July 1, 1997. Richardson said that by 1999 all companies making deposits in excess of $20,000 also would be required to use EFTPS. "We hope taxpayers win not wait until they are required to use EFTPS," said Richardson. She said she would like to make the electronic payment program a "collaborative effort" between the IRS and businesses.

Filing by phone

Richardson said she expected as many as 23 million taxpayers who use form 1040EZ to file using the telephone in 1997. She also said that last year over 10 million taxpayers had refunds deposited in their bank accounts and she suggested more businesses promote the direct deposit refunds.

More information on the various IRS electronic payment and filing systems is available on the IRS World Wide Web site at http://www.irs.
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Title Annotation:IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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