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CNN Today

IRS Hopes Electronic Filing Can Relieve Crush of Paperwork

Aired March 29, 2000 - 1:24 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Are your taxes finished?

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Oh, you're so lucky. For me it might be a time to chat with the IRS.

WATERS: Oh, really? Well, I'll tell you, we'll learn more about all this process.

Now CNN's Jeff Flock told his wife last night at dinner, honey, I'm going to be live at the tax processing center in Ogden, Utah, tomorrow, and sure enough here he is -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, boy, was she impressed by that. And I hope you're as equally as impressed. And perhaps you are by all of the reams of documents you see around me.

I am strolling through now what amounts to a quarter million tax returns. There are plenty more where this come from -- have come from. We're sort of taking you through the whole process today, from here to another area not far from here where they try and make certain that all of your returns have all of the right data on them, that all numbers of your add up, that your Social Security number is proper.

From there, each of the documents goes on to another area, where some would say it's an antiquated system that numbers -- it's a hand numbering system, but they say it works quite well. Each document that you send to the IRS gets a number.

From there, on down the hall farther to some of the fastest key strokers in the West. They are about the business of entering all of that data into the main computer system.

We want to Amplify this whole system for you, and these guys are working very quickly, particularly Anthony freeman, who is one of the fastest tax examiners in the West.

Anthony, if I can interrupt you for a second, what are you doing?

ANTHONY FREEMAN, TAX EXAMINER: I'm editing a document. What I'm doing is looking at this document for problems, looking for missing return information, like W2s, Social Security numbers, attachments that need to be to the document to get it through the process. FLOCK: Now we asked you earlier what some of the most common problems are, and we want to show our viewers that now if we can.

First of all, the thing that people most screw up in addition to not signing their return is the wrong Social Security number, either wrong or missing. People also wrongly claim earned income tax credit or get that amount wrong. Either a wrong computation or a failure to check the box for your child tax credit is also a problem. You had a mistake on the refund or balance due addition and reading the wrong tax from the tax table.

How come people make all these mistakes, and what do you do, I guess is the better question, when you see a mistake?

FREEMAN: Well what I do, I just check all the documents. And the reason why they make them, they're probably going too fast and not double checking. Double checking will help them a lot. But the best and surest way to do it to make sure they don't make a mistake is to e-file. The e-file solves all those problem from Social Security numbers missing, signatures missing, attachments missing and it being illegible -- all of it's there.

FLOCK: Well, that may all put you out of a job if they e-file though, so we'll have to watch that.

Anthony Freeman, I appreciate it very much.

We do want to talk a little bit more about that whole process and what people go through to try and make sure everything is A-OK, because the IRS, that last S is for service.

And you really, Linda Weiskopf, try to do your best to make sure that you get these returns straight for people and get them the money when they got it coming.

LINDA WEISKOPF, OGDEN PROCESSING DIVISION: We sure do. We take some extra steps sometimes that I don't think people are aware of. We actually -- when a check comes to us and we don't know how to apply it to the account, they haven't given us enough information, sometimes we call them, when we can get a hold of them at home and get their help in getting it in to the right place.

FLOCK: So it's a much more friendly IRS, at least your trying.

WEISKOPF: We're definitely trying, that's for sure.

FLOCK: And lastly, Anthony sort of made this point, but what would be the easiest way of eliminating some of this paper that now you stand in front of?

WEISKOPF: Electronic filing. We could get rid of all this. And taxpayers would have the information right up front to know it was correctly filed.

FLOCK: OK, a pitch for electronic filing. And it's an appropriate place to make it, among this sea of documents that almost drowns the IRS each year. But they're bailing fast.

That's the latest from here.

I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, reporting like from Ogden, Utah.

WATERS: OK, have a fun day, Jeff.

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