E-filing nears 50 percent mark

Internal Revenue Service officials reported a 15 percent upsurge this week in electronic filing for the year. With nearly 60 million returns filed electronically, tax officials said the total is approaching nearly half of the nation's 130 million individual tax returns.

"It seems safe to say that next year we will reach a milestone with half of all individual returns being processed electronically," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a statement. The number of individual returns filed electronically this year was 7 million higher than last year, he said.

The IRS's latest statistics on e-filing cover a period through April 30. Tax officials said the numbers could go higher as taxpayers who filed for extensions submit returns by Aug. 15 and Oct. 15.

More than 14 million individual taxpayers prepared and filed their own returns using a home computer, a 21.7 percent increase from a year ago, IRS officials said.

The number of professional tax preparers who used electronic filing this year went up 15.8 percent, for a total of 41.7 million e-filed returns.

Free File, a program offered by the IRS and a group of tax software companies, grew 22 percent this year as 3.4 million taxpayers used the free online filing service.

Tax officials also reported that nearly 47 million taxpayers used the IRS' direct-deposit option for receiving their refunds, an 11 percent increase compared with last year.

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