April 23, 2022 - Douglas Myser

IRS preparing to barcode tax returns. Due to the backlog of unfiled tax returns, which is a byproduct of not just the Covid lockdown at the IRS, but the fact the agency has not been given enough funding the last few years, which is now being reversed by President Biden. The National Taxpayer Advocate who is tasked with finding solutions for problems at the agency, floated the idea of bringing a barcode scanner so that the tax returns that are being done manually could be done in record time. Every single digit of every single tax paper return has to be input by hand, using a keyboard and a real human being. "The IRS's submission processing function today evokes images of what data transcription looked like in the 1096s". IRS preparing to barcode tax returns.

The Taxpayer Advocate pointed out that the technology exist within the IRS to scan and automatically input this information. Two types of technology could help. The first is optical character recognition, or OCR, which is exactly what is sounds like. It would allow the machine to read returns, paper ones could have the time reduced dramatically for inputting the information. The second technology is the kind that produces barcodes. The same type that you see in retail stores. Barcodes could speed up the process because tax preparation services could incorporate them into their software. It's not even theoretical because many of the states already use barcodes on tax returns. So why was this solution not implemented years ago, if the technology existed back then ? Basically it looks like the Congress just keeps dropping the ball when it comes to the IRS. They have not paid much attention to the agency until the deficits started getting out of hand, then wanted to know why more tax wasn't being collected.

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