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April 14, 2004

UMBC Information Systems Professor: e-Filing Still Best Way to Do Taxes

As the midnight deadline for filing federal income taxes looms, UMBC information systems assistant professor and electronic government expert Stephen H. Holden says that filing taxes online through the IRS' e-Filing program is a convenient, secure way for taxpayers to avoid common errors while getting their refunds faster.

Holden, who led efforts to improve IRS e-Filing products and features during six years at the IRS before joining the faculty at UMBC, is also the author of a new study for the IBM Center for the Business of Government that shows how other federal agencies can benefit from the IRS' experience in developing e-signature solutions.

"E-filing remains the best way for taxpayers to file their taxes," says Holden. "In many states, taxpayers can file both their federal and state income taxes in one transaction and get their refunds in less than two weeks."

In the new report released by the IBM Center for the Business of Government (, entitled Understanding Electronic Signatures: The Key to E-Government, Holden describes how the IRS pioneered the use of electronicsignatures or e-signatures for tax payers filing electronically. According to the report, the increase in e-filing has helped the IRS to reduce the amount of staff time and resources spent on paperwork, allowing them to dedicate more attention to catching tax errors or fraud.

Holden's report shows how last year, the IRS accepted over 52 million e-filed returns - 40 percent of all individual returns that were filed - with well over 70 percent of those e-filed returns being signed electronically. The report notes how this process made the IRS much more efficient, saving an average of $350 per thousand returns.

"E-filing is one of the federal government's longest standing and most successful electronic government programs," says Holden. "If the IRS can do it - with its size, complexity of stakeholder relationships, and general aversion to change - so can other federal agencies."

About Stephen H. Holden

Holden is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). His research interests include electronic government, information policy, electronic authentication policies and practices, the management of IT in the public sector and electronic democracy.

His research has appeared in IEEE Internet Computing, Public Performance and Management Review, Government Information Quarterly and other journals. He has participated on a National Academy of Sciences study team on electronic authentication, consulted for several federal agencies, and is a contributor to Government Computer News. Prior to his six-year tenure with the IRS working on e-filing and other information technology projects, Holden worked for 10 years at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

About the IBM Center for the Business of Government

Through stipends for research, the IBM Center for The Business of Government stimulates research and facilitates discussion on new approaches to improving the effectiveness of government at the federal, state, local, and international levels. For additional information on the IBM Center, visit the Web site at

How to obtain the report:

"Understanding Electronic Signatures: The Key to E-Government" can be obtained free of charge by calling (202) 515-4504 or by downloading a copy at

Posted by dwinds1 at April 14, 2004 12:00 AM