OASIS tackles XML for taxes

Members of OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) on Monday announced formation of 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 in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States, 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 modernization for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, in Washington. For example, income in XML would mean the same in different countries, he said. The work of other efforts, such as ebXML (electronic business XML) and XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language), will be leveraged by OASIS, he said.

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

“It will probably be a slow transition from the EDI format to XML,” as most businesses, at least in the United States, have invested in EDI infrastructures, Carson said.

“We’re going to keep [EDI] up and running so we don’t pull the rug out from underneath [businesses using EDI],” Carson said. “But as the IRS modernizes with new e-filing offerings, we want to do that in XML so we have that flexibility without the overhead of EDI infrastructure.”