Sixty percent of tax returns have been e-filed

Electronic filing of income tax returns has remained at record levels as the April 15 deadline approaches. More than 45.8 million tax returns have been e-filed through March 26, 12 percent more than last year. The number represents more than 61 percent of all returns, the IRS said today.

Taxpayers have filed a total of 74.4 million returns, compared with 73 million at the same time last year, of which 56 percent were e-filed.

“E-filing is the fastest, easiest way to do taxes. There are fewer errors, and taxpayers get their refunds in less than half the time of paper returns,” said IRS commissioner Mark Everson.

Home computer filers submitted nearly 10.5 million returns, an increase of 22.9 percent from last year. Tax professionals filed more than 32.2 million returns electronically, up 10.9 percent, and returns filed under the Free File program topped 2.6 million, surging 24 percent from last year.

The IRS has frequently asked questions and a variety of forms and information available for taxpayers at the 1040 Central section on its Web site, IRS.gov, Everson said.

Taxpayers are also receiving bigger refunds this year, averaging $2,113, up from $2,010 last year. About 10 percent more taxpayers are requesting that the IRS deposit their refunds directly into a bank account this year.

The agency is also inviting individuals to apply to join the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, which makes suggestions to improve the tax agency.

Many e-filers are young, Internet-savvy college students and professionals who grew up with computers, according to a recent survey by phone carrier and Internet service provider SBC Communications of San Antonio, Texas.

The national survey of 18- to 30-year-old broadband Internet users, based on 300 respondents in March, found that 73 percent of those who file their own taxes do so electronically. Of those who have someone else file their taxes, almost half, or 45 percent, said it is important for their tax returns to be filed electronically.

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