E-filing surges

More than half of individual tax returns will be filed electronically in 2005, said Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson today.

"Those who file paper returns are now in the minority,” he said during a National Press Club luncheon. "E-filing is fast, convenient and gets your refund to you in half the time of paper returns."

Taxpayers e-filed 39.2 million returns through March 4, an increase of 2.1 million from last year, according to an IRS release.

The growth in electronic returns coincides with a marked increase in public use of Free File, a program that allows free access via the IRS site to private-sector federal tax preparation software. The joint government and private-sector effort is a result of an earlier IRS goal to develop and distribute its own tax preparation software for free.

More than 3 million returns were prepared using Free File programs through March 2, an increase from 2.15 million returns for the same period last year, according to IRS figures.

During the filing season, which ends for most taxpayers April 15, the IRS Web site is busy, Everson said. The average number of visits per day is more than 1 million, and the tax agency approaches Paris Hilton in popularity as a search engine term, he said.

Taxpayers should also feel confident their electronic information is kept safe, Everson said. “People do try [to hack into IRS systems]," he said. "They try from foreign countries all over the world, here in the states, but they’ve not been successful."

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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