The Growing Role of Computers in
American Federal Tax Compliance
William J. Turnier
Computers have had a significant impact on reducing both compliance and administrative costs under the American Federal Internal Revenue Code. Computerassisted legal research systems have vastly facilitated legal research for both the taxpayer and tax-collecting officials. Tax evasion and underreporting have been brought under better control with the assistance of computers. At present, successful experiments are being conducted under which returns are being filed electronically with the assistance of computers so as to allow for virtually instant processing by tax-collecting officials. Taxpayers have also found computers to be of considerable assistance in preparing tax returns and developing tax-saving strategies.
Computers have also had a significant impact upon the practice of law in the United States, ranging from promotion of office management efficiency to the actual conducting of research and production of documents for clients, as well as assistance in the decision-making process.1 It is impossible to go into all of these matters in detail; consequently the focus of attention in this chapter will, in general, be confined to three areas in which computers seem to have acquired a significant and growing role in the compliance with, and administration of, American federal tax law. These areas are: (1) the conducting of legal research in acquiring access to traditional legal materials; (2) the administration of the Internal Revenue Code by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) insofar as computers have provided the IRS with the capacity to select returns for audit and detect underreporting and tax fraud; and (3) compliance activities on the part of taxpayers as they relate to preparation of returns, compliance with an evergrowing, complicated body of law, and the actual preparation and filing of returns.____________________