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OASIS tackles XML for taxes

Members of OASIS (the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) have formed a committee to advance an XML-based standard for the exchange of tax-related information.

The OASIS Tax XML Technical Committee, featuring representatives from government agencies from the UK, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the US, plus businesses and financial institutions, will develop a common vocabulary for tax reporting and compliance information.

The project will enable exchange of tax information across international boundaries based on XML, said Gregory Carson, director of electronic tax administration modernisation for the US Internal Revenue Service, in Washington.

For example, income in XML would mean the same in different countries, Carson said. OASIS will use the work of other efforts, such as ebXML (electronic business XML) and XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language).

Most data interchange related to taxes is done via EDI, but the IRS plans to develop using XML, Carson said.

He admitted it would probably be a slow transition from the EDI format to XML, as most businesses, at least in the US, have invested in EDI infrastructures.

"We're going to keep EDI running so we don't pull the rug out from underneath businesses using EDI," Carson said. "But as the IRS modernises with new e-filing offerings, we want to do that in XML so we have that flexibility without the overhead of EDI infrastructure."

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