Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

IRS Endures Hard Criticism despite Its Improvements (Part 2)

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

IRS Endures Hard Criticism despite Its Improvements (Part 2)

Article excerpt

In addition, eight monitors at headquarters in Washington make random calls to assistors throughout the country. Results of this check are scored by a private contractor.

For routine inquiries, perhaps the best place to start is with another IRS service, Tele-Tax, which provides recorded information on tape; of the 140 tapes available, the most popular cover interest-expense deductions, the child-care credit, educational and automobile deductions, 401(k) plans and itemizing. About 30 million Tele-Tax calls are expected this year.

By punching in such data as a Social Security number and the amount of the expected refund, taxpayers can use Tele-Tax to find out the status of their refund. Some 75 percent of taxpayers get refunds.

Anyone needing more attention can walk into one of 600 IRS offices or seek out one of the 80,000 or so volunteers who have passed an IRS test and whose names are kept on rosters at service field offices. The IRS says it expects 2.8 million people to be aided this year by the volunteers.

Agency publication No. 910, the ``Guide to Free Tax Services,'' has a wealth of information, including a list of pamphlets, telephone numbers, filing tips and a list of Tele-Tax tapes.

It is available from IRS distribution centers. The standard IRS tax information and schedules package contains forms for mail orders.

This year, electronic filing of returns, which must be done through a certified filing service, has been expanded to all 50 states.

The IRS says electronic filing will produce refunds within three weeks - two weeks if the money is to be deposited directly into a bank account.

Despite the strides the agency has made in computer technology, particularly in its expanding ability to cross-check returns by matching them with information supplied by such third parties as banks, computers remain a major weakness. …

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