Ongoing Debate Over Electronic Filing

BY STUART R. JOSEPHS

I applauded the letter, “ Prefers Paper Filing ” ( JofA , Mar.03, page 11). However, I was then very dismayed to read the long, contrary letter, “ In Favor of Electronic Filing ” ( JofA , May03, page 12).

Nonelectronic preparation of some returns is most appropriate and cost-justified, as is the nonelectronic filing of many completed returns with the IRS. There are numerous complex returns that require the attachment of elections and intricate schedules, and it is not too costly or difficult to obtain evidence of filing for paper returns.

Both paper and electronic filing require their own sets of processes and procedures, and each has its own cost and detail characteristics. Also, the IRS has greatly improved its transferring of information from paper returns.

Streamlining the refund process is not that significant because refunds should be minimized through effective planning since they constitute interest-free loans to the government.

Giving electronic copies of returns on a CD to clients is useless if the clients are not computer-capable.

Electronic filing benefits the government more than it benefits taxpayers and return preparers who often find paper filing has many advantages over electronic filing.

While electronic tax compliance has its place, it currently is not in a position to completely supersede paper filing. Our recent success in Iraq was achieved not only with modern precision-guided missiles, but also with old-fashioned infantry.

Stuart R. Josephs, CPA
Tax Assistance Practice
San Diego

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