IRS finds e-filing has side benefits

IRS e-file

The 2002 tax season illustrated to the Internal Revenue Service that e-filing has some unexpected benefits — fewer phone calls asking about the status of refunds.

The IRS is already planning to provide faster service for next year, officials said today.

Because the e-filing process means fewer errors on tax returns and faster processing times, the 2002 filing season also meant that fewer people were calling IRS call centers looking for information on their returns. Therefore, e-filing, resulted in better service for taxpayers who did have to use the call centers because IRS representatives were not overwhelmed, said Tom Lucas, senior technical adviser for enterprise architecture in the IRS Business Systems Modernization Office.

Lucas was speaking at the E-Gov 2003 conference in Washington, D.C.

The IRS also found that many more people than expected used the "Where's My Refund?" feature on the agency's Web site, irs.gov, which for the first time lets citizens tap into back-end agency systems, he said. Officials expected the system would get about 100 hits per second, but it got many more. That also helped reduce the overall calls into IRS centers, he said.

For the 2003 tax season, the IRS is pledging to have refunds back within 10 days on e-file returns, and for the 2004 tax filing season, the goal is to have returns on e-filed taxes within a single day, said Jeffrey Mohr, a member of the Computer Sciences Corp. IRS prime contract team.

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