I believe the manner in which we (the IRS) receive, track and process manual (paper) tax returns is antiquated. With these returns passing through so many hands, there is a huge margin for human error; however, if the tax returns were bar-coded upon receipt and these bar codes were scanned throughout each step of the process (especially now that returns are sent throughout the nation regardless of where they are filed), it would eliminate lost returns, erroneous physical filing of returns (by the service centers), duplicate notices being sent out to the taxpayers, and IRS employees across the board having to manually enter/update tracking information (Document Locator Codes). It could capture real time data on the tax return data system for each return, allowing IRS employees to track returns and easily identify the status of returns. Scanner guns would need to be purchased for the service centers and each IRS office, and the tax return data system would need updated (which is long overdue anyway). Overall, the time spent searching, filing and manually updating these returns would be cut dramatically, allowing IRS employees to be more efficient. It would also give taxpayers confidence knowing their tax returns are processed accurately and effectively.
Idea No. 8355