IRS Project Not Meeting Expectations, Report Says: If current trends continue, only about 33 million tax returns a year will be filed electronically by 2001--fewer than half of the IRS’ stated goal, according to a General Accounting Office report. Since 1986, the IRS has spent $2.5 billion on its tax systems modernization program, which aims to eliminate almost all of the agency’s paper handling. The Internal Revenue Service had hoped by 2001 to receive at least 80 million electronic filings--or just over a third of total tax returns. The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found cost a major impediment to on-line filing: Taxpayers must generally file their returns through a professional preparer or use home computer software, at costs ranging from $15 to $40. In February, the GAO added the electronic-filing project to its priority list of government programs vulnerable to cost overruns, mismanagement or failure. Since then, the GAO has closely scrutinized IRS progress, issued several program reports and testified before Congress on the modernization program’s pitfalls.