Self-Prepared e-Filing Up 8 Percent

The Internal Revenue Service announced that e-filed returns from tax professionals have climbed more than 4 percent. But one of the biggest areas of growth is in returns filed electronically from home. Self-prepared e-filed returns have grown more than 8 percent from last year.

“Taxpayers are filing electronically at a record pace this year,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “We encourage people to consider e-file and Free File as the tax deadline approaches. E-file reduces taxpayer errors and gets refunds back quickly.”

So far this tax filing season, 73 percent of all returns have been e-filed, compared to 70 percent for the same period last year. As of last Friday, 29 percent of e-filed returns were filed by people using their home computers, up from 28 percent of e-filed returns for the same period last year.

Also, more people than ever before are opting to have their refunds directly deposited. So far this year, the IRS has directly deposited more than 42 million refunds, or 76 percent of all refunds issued this tax filing season, up from 71 percent of the total for the same period last year.

People are visiting the IRS Web site in record numbers. The IRS has recorded more than 90 million unique visits to IRS.gov this year, up from about 83 million for the same period last year, an increase of 9.0 percent.

Meanwhile, this year’s filings still show that about three in 10 tax returns are not requesting the one-time telephone tax refund. Although some of these taxpayers may not be eligible, others may qualify and not know it. The IRS urges taxpayers to check their eligibility for this special refund by visiting the Telephone Excise Tax Refund section on IRS.gov.

The government stopped collecting the long-distance excise tax last August after several federal court decisions held that the tax does not apply to long-distance service as it is billed today. Federal officials also authorized a one-time refund of the 3 percent federal excise tax collected on service billed during the previous 41 months, stretching from the beginning of March 2003 to the end of July 2006. The tax continues to apply to local-only phone service.

Of those requesting the telephone tax refund, 99 percent are choosing the standard amount, and the rest are basing their request on the actual amount of tax paid. The standard amount ranges from $30 to $60 and is based on the number of exemptions taxpayers are eligible to claim on their return. Alternatively, taxpayers can request a refund based on the tax shown on their phone bills and other records.

Taxpayers can request the telephone tax refund, as well as file their entire tax return electronically, for no cost using the IRS's Free File program. Seventy percent of Americans are eligible for the Free File program because they earn an adjusted gross income of $52,000 or less. Free File can only be accessed through IRS.gov.

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