IRS e-file program breaks records for 2008 filing season

The Internal Revenue Service's e-file program set another record in the just-finished 2008 filing season, while Web page visits to IRS.gov also reached new highs in part due to interest in economic stimulus payments.

"The IRS has made great strides in harnessing the power of technology to do its work more efficiently," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. "The growth in electronic services helped the IRS deliver a strong filing season for the nation's taxpayers in 2008. The increase in e-file, particularly in the final weeks of the filing season, shows that taxpayers are continuing to recognize the benefits of filing electronically."

More than 86 million individual tax returns were electronically filed so far in the 2008 filing season, a 12 percent increase over last year at this time. By comparison, for all of 2007 just under 80 million returns were filed electronically. In all, 60 percent of all returns filed so far this year came in through e-file.

A small percentage of the growth in e-file resulted from those taxpayers who were only required to file tax returns this year to claim their federal economic stimulus payments.

The 2008 tax season saw an increase in electronic filing among last-minute filers, a group that has traditionally filed paper returns. From April 12 to 18, the number of electronically filed returns received by the IRS was up 28 percent over the comparable week last year, even though the overall number of tax returns (paper and electronic) received during the same week was up only 9 percent.

Here are some other highlights among statistics released today:

  • The IRS Customer Account Data Engine (CADE) has so far processed more than 30 million individual tax returns this year, more than double the number of returns handled by the system during all of last year. CADE, which is at the heart of efforts to replace many of the agency's aging account processing systems, dramatically speeds up internal IRS processing. CADE processes refunds on average 5 days faster than the IRS' legacy tax return processing system.

  • The IRS has received about 4.6 million Free File returns, a 21 percent jump over last year at this time. Free File, available only on IRS.gov, will continue to accept returns through Oct. 15 from taxpayers with incomes of $54,000 or less.

  • The number of balance-due returns filed electronically surged 21 percent to over 11.3 million, also a new record.

  • This year's economic-stimulus payments helped fuel a 44-percent increase in the number of visits to IRS.gov, the agency's Web site. The nearly 206 million visits included, for example, over 8 million to the economic stimulus calculator in April.

    2008 Filing Season Statistics

    Cumulative through the weeks ending 5/18/07 and 5/18/08


    Individual Income Tax Returns 2007 2008 % Change
    Total Receipts 129,150,000 143,138,000 10.8%
    Total Processed 119,827,000 130,342,000 8.8%
    E-filing Receipts:
    TOTAL 77,076,000 86,347,000 12.0%
    Tax Professionals 54,932,000 59,975,000 9.2%
    Self-prepared 22,145,000 26,372,000 19.1%
    Web usage:
    Visits to IRS.gov 142,282,000 205,654,000 44.5%

    2008 Filing Season Statistics

    Cumulative through the weeks ending 4/20/07 and 4/18/08


    Individual Income Tax Returns 2007 2008 % Change
    Total Receipts 124,965,000 136,941,000 9.6%
    Total Processed 105,159,000 114,737,000 9.1%
    E-filing Receipts:
    TOTAL 76,159,000 85,154,000 11.8%
    Tax Professionals 54,324,000 59,163,000 8.9%
    Self-prepared 21,835,000 25,990,000 19.0%
    Web usage:
    Visits to IRS.gov 132,673,000 160,777,000 21.2%
    Total Refunds:
    Number 88,188,000 89,898,000 2.0%
    Amount $203.022Bil $214.264Bil 5.5%
    Average refund $2,303 $2,383 3.5%
    Direct Deposit Refunds:
    Number 57,155,000 61,820,000 8.2%
    Amount $153.486Bil $166.461Bil 8.5%

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