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`IF YOU'RE CLAIMING NO DEPENDENTS, PRESS 1...'
For many people, the most frustrating thing about filing income tax returns is the confusing forms. Even the short, simplified 1040EZ can cause grief for taxpayers who use the wrong tax table or goof up in their arithmetic. But soon, the simplest form could be filed through your phone.
In January, the Internal Revenue Service begins testing TeleFile, in which taxpayers use their telephone's keypad to enter data such as Social Security numbers and yearly incomes. An IRS computer will automatically tabulate the figures and determine the exact amount of refund or money owed to Uncle Sam. Microlog Corp., the Germantown (Md.) company that developed the system, says it can handle most taxpayers in just five minutes. TeleFile will be available only to the 1.2 million Ohio residents who filed 1040EZ forms last year, however, and they'll still have to send in a form -- the ultrashort 1040TEL -- to verify what they filed by phone.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG