Washington (Sept. 18, 2002) -- The EZ Tax Filing initiative is moving ahead, with the Internal Revenue Service fielding both positive and negative reactions during the comment period, which ended Sept. 4.

While individual taxpayers favored the initiative (626 in favor and just three opposed,) other segments were less enthusiastic. Accounting and legal tax professional associations were opposed to the initiative 4-0, while individual accounting and legal tax professionals weighed in at two in favor and 54 opposed. Of eight tax software companies which commented, six gave positive responses and two gave a negative or mixed response.

One comment stated opposition to the initiative "on both economic and legal grounds and respectfully submits its grave concern that the Agreement and the Consortium are anti-competitive and illegal, will fail to accomplish their suggested objectives and will harm taxpayers and consumers of tax preparation and e-file services over the long term."

According to the IRS, free federal electronic filing of tax returns is pro-consumer and pro-taxpayer. Under the proposal, the IRS says, taxpayer privacy and security protections may actually be increased. Marketing of the free electronic filing service will be conducted to increase public awareness. However, federal tax laws strictly prohibit unauthorized marketing to taxpayers using a commercial tax preparation service.

The new free tax filing consortium Web page is slated to be online by December 31, 2002, in anticipation of the 2003 filing season.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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