New Version of Electronic Filing System Online

“A new version of Washington State Department of Revenue’s Electronic Filing, or ELF service is now available.The new version of ELF is located on the Internet at It runs faster and can be accessed using Netscape Communicator 4.61 or higher, in addition to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 4.01 or higher. The new version also works with Macintosh computers without a need to use Windows 98-emulation software.“We listened to your suggestions, and we’ve incorporated them into an improved system that is really the most ‘non-taxing’ way to pay state business taxes,” agency director Fred Kiga said.Washington has won two national awards for its role in deploying a system to let businesses file and pay their taxes directly over the Internet. To date, nearly 6,000 businesses has registered to use ELF or are in the registration process.The department developed ELF in response to a request from Governor Gary Locke for state agencies to find ways to increase the efficiency and quality of government services.Processing paper returns was becoming increasingly burdensome, according to Kiga, because Washington has been adding an average of 25,000 new businesses to the tax rolls annually, while Department of Revenue staffing levels have remained flat. Many businesses also make errors on paper returns, requiring time-consuming reworking of out of balance returns by both department staff and business owners.ELF has the potential to reduce the 13 percent error rate found in paper returns by automatically calculating taxes and flagging potential errors or omissions before a return is filed, Kiga said.The free ELF service lets users customize their returns, provides online access to the latest tax information, allows businesses to file early while postponing payment until the due date, and generates an electronic confirmation that returns were received. The site is said to be encrypted and secure.The department is continuing to refine ELF and expects to have alternate payment options, including payment by credit cards, up and running by mid-year.ELF is currently available to most quarterly and monthly taxpayers. It is not yet available to manufacturers and some other industries. Additional categories are expected to be added during this year.ELF users such as Pam Hatfield of the Frank Russell Company based in Tacoma find ELF complementary to the company’s needs. Prior to ELF, Hatfield said she coordinated the company’s tax filing efforts by walking the return over to co-workers in different buildings. Now, she uses the Internet.“When I let them know it’s ready, they can open it up, take a good look at the form, and send it when they’re ready to do so,” Hatfield said. “ELF is so much easier, especially when we’re pulling information together at the last minute.”To obtain more information about using ELF, order a free demonstration CD-ROM, and determine if your firm currently qualifies to use ELF for tax filing, visit the Washington State Department of Revenue web site at, or call 1-877-FILE-ELF.”