From January 31 – the opening day of the 2014 tax-filing season – until February 7, the IRS received 27.3 million income tax returns, up 2.5 percent from the 26.9 million returns it collected around the same time last year, the agency reported today.
Of those 27.3 million returns, nearly 26.1 million – or about 96 percent – have been filed electronically so far this year. At this point in the 2013 filing season, 25.1 million people e-filed their returns.
The high percentage of e-filers is not surprising, as the IRS has strongly encouraged taxpayers to use that avenue to file their returns instead of sending in paper returns.
“The fastest and easiest way to file is with e-file,” new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a recent YouTube video. “The most impressive number I have learned in my short time at the IRS is that last year over 120 million people filed their returns electronically. And many of you can even file your taxes electronically for free through the Free File program.”
The agency has emphasized that taxpayers will receive their federal refund faster by using Free File with the direct deposit option. Individuals can check the status of their refund by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool.
Speaking of refunds, they are up 18 percent compared to this same time last year (19.5 million in 2014 versus 16.4 million in 2013). The average refund as of February 7 is $3,317 compared to the average refund of $3,170 reported early in the 2013 filing season. The IRS noted that refund averages generally have higher-dollar values early in the filing season than later in the year.
The IRS also reported that, as of last Friday, 87 percent of all refunds issued were directly deposited.
Other data the IRS released today included the following:
- Tax professionals have e-filed 12.7 million taxpayer returns, down 5.6 percent from the 13.5 million returns practitioners e-filed at this time in 2013. However, more people are filing their tax returns electronically from their home computers. As of February 7, 13.4 million people have e-filed from home, up 14.7 percent from 11.7 million people in early February last year.
- The number of visits to the IRS website has dropped slightly compared to this time last year: 90.7 million visits in early 2013 versus 89.7 million visits in early 2014. In the YouTube video, Koskinen reiterated that taxpayers should head to the IRS’s website for answers to their questions rather than call the agency for assistance, especially during the Presidents Day holiday. Recent budget cuts have had a negative effect on IRS customer service, as the agency only answered six in ten phone calls in 2013.
- The IRS has issued $64.5 billion in refunds so far in 2014, up 24 percent from the $52.1 billion issued at this time in 2013. The total amount of direct deposited refunds also is up – from $55.8 billion as of February 7 compared to $50.2 billion as of February 8, 2013.