Washington (Oct. 10, 2002) -- The Department of Justice cleared the way for a group of private sector firms to form a consortium to offer taxpayers an easier way to obtain free electronic tax preparation and filing services in coordination with the Internal Revenue Service.

In cooperation with the IRS, the consortium will offer the services annually from January through April 15 to at least 60 percent of the country's individual taxpayers. The offers will be made available to the public through an IRS hosted Web site.

The Justice Department said the consortium, as proposed, should pose no threat to competition in the market for providing tax services to individuals. The participants in the consortium will each continue to offer their own electronic tax preparation and filing services in competition with each other outside the consortium structure, and to otherwise compete with each other and the consortium.

Taxpayers will be able to access the list of consortium members' free services through the main IRS Web site, at www.irs.gov, and through other government Web sites. The IRS and the consortium will coordinate marketing of the free tax services to maximize public awareness, although specific offerings or products offered by consortium members will not be endorsed by the IRS.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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