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Paul Doocey
Paul Doocey
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Taxing Question

BS&T editor, Paul Doocey writes about electronic filing and paperless processes

I'm writing this column on April 15, literally minutes after returning from the post office where I mailed my 2002 tax documents.

Actually, getting my tax returns in the mail the morning of April 15 is a record of sorts for me. Yes, I confess, I'm usually one of those mopes you see standing on a mile-long post office line on or near 12:00 midnight every April 15.

In New York, this means heading over to the massive postal facility on 34th Street and 8th Avenue, and entering into the informal holiday that has become Tax Return eve. Walk up the steps to the mail station and you are accosted by a host of cheesy product promotions, self-proclaimed tax experts who can be hired to fill out forms, and harried local TV news personalities looking for an interview.

It's fun, but hardly worth the impact all the procrastination has on your stomach lining.

The reason why I was able to post my taxes "early" this year: I finally took advantage of the electronic filing offered by the federal government. Indeed, it took me less than an hour to fill out the EZ form and e-mail it to the IRS. It was so easy and efficient that I actually looked forward to doing the same for my state forms and avoiding the post office all together.

But when all was said and done I ended up on line at the post office. The reason: some states still do not offer electronic filing, and force you to submit tax information the old fashioned stamp and mail way.

All this leaves me understandably frustrated. I see the benefit of a paperless technology and embrace it, only to find that it is not universally applied within the tax return segment.

My guess is that this is the way many bankers feel when it comes to paperless systems within the financial services space. Few would argue that paperless technology improves efficiency and saves money within certain bank offerings. But trying to develop a totally paperless office remains elusive since many imaging applications are dedicated to a particular line of business, and lack the tools needed to easily connect with like systems. The result is a mish-mash of imaging offerings, and a headache for the operator looking to put them all together.

Will there ever be a universal paperless/imaging approach within a banking enterprise? This is the question Ivan Schneider tackles in the Cover Story. The answer may surprise you, and give hope to all those like me who look forward to a push button future.

Now if we could only get the state and federal governments to post a universal electronic tax filing system. That would be worthy of a holiday.

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