Justice OKs e-tax plan

The Justice Department has approved a plan for a group of private-sector companies to form a consortium under the direction of the Internal Revenue Service to offer free, online tax preparation and filing services to qualified citizens.

The department reviewed the plan as a preliminary step toward formally establishing the consortium early next year. The approval means that the department's Antitrust Division will not challenge the action, officials said.

The Antitrust Division said the consortium should pose no threat to competition in the market for providing tax services to individuals. Each of the participating companies will continue to offer its own electronic tax preparation and filing services outside the consortium.

The consortium will be open to all providers of electronic tax services that meet IRS-approved requirements and agree to offer free preparation and filing. The consortium will agree that at least 60 percent of taxpayers overall will be eligible for free services.


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