Adobe Launches Bar-Code System to Simplify Forms Processing
Officials at the Internal Revenue Service  say they will try this new bar code technology as they look for additional ways to process tax returns more efficiently.
Harnessing the strengths of Adobe PDF and ubiquity of Adobe Reader software, Adobe's new barcode-enabled forms solution will help organizations reduce the costs and errors associated with manual data entry and provide a unified environment to support both paper and electronic forms processes.
"We're constantly seeking new ways to enhance the services offered to citizens and tax professionals, while also improving our internal efficiency," said Paul Showalter, senior publishing analyst in IRS Media and Publications.
"Electronic filing is the preferred method of submitting tax forms, but many U.S. taxpayers still choose to file by mail. Technology that allows us to offer fill-and-print tax forms on IRS.gov and our Tax Products CD-ROM will eliminate data entry on the back-end and result in a faster, more effective paper-based process. Tax forms will be processed more quickly, benefiting citizens, and the IRS will save valuable time and resources as well."
This new document services technology, the latest addition to Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform, will help customers eliminate the need for manual data entry while managing high-volume, paper forms processes such as tax returns, voter registration documents, account applications, and change of address requests.
The Adobe solution will enable organizations to create Adobe PDF forms that include 2-D barcodes, technology that captures significantly more information than a traditional, one-dimensional barcode. Once distributed to customers or constituents via the Web, e-mail or CD-ROM, the forms can be completed on- or off-line using the free, widely distributed Adobe Reader. As end users complete form fields, the 2-D barcode dynamically encodes the data in a format specified by the form author. Once completed and printed by the user, forms can be submitted by mail or fax. Upon receipt, organizations simply scan the barcode to capture the form data and deliver it to a back-end system for processing.
"This new technology will help solve an immediate, costly problem facing enterprises and governments worldwide," said Ivan Koon, senior vice president, Intelligent Documents Business Unit. "Because of regulatory requirements, equal access mandates and legacy system challenges, many of our customers are forced to instruct clients or constituents to submit forms on paper. Utilizing this new solution, organizations will now have faster access to more accurate data and, with PDF at the core of their investment, they will only need one environment to process paper and electronic forms."
To author barcode-enabled PDF forms, enterprises and governments will use Adobe Acrobat® 6.0 Professional software with a plug-in or a future version of Adobe Designer software. To enable end users to fill out and print forms, organizations will harness the more than half-a-billion copies of Adobe Reader distributed to date. Adobe Document Server for Reader Extensions can be utilized to embed additional rights in the PDF forms prior to distribution, providing Adobe Reader users access to additional functionality. Organizations will scan the completed forms and use an Adobe decode server or legacy system to capture the information and supply it to a back-end system for processing.
The barcode-enabled forms solution will be piloted during 2004 and available by the end of the current calendar year through Adobe's server product line. Pricing will be announced with availability in the second half of 2004. For more information on Adobe's enterprise solutions, please visit www.adobe.com/enterprise/main.html.