Survey: E-filing 'very important'

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Many taxpayers consider the ability to electronically file tax returns and e-mail questions to the Internal Revenue Service important -- but even more of them want to be able to call someone.

According to a random phone survey conducted for the IRS Oversight Board, a large majority of those polled said it was "very important" that they could e-file their tax returns, surf a Web site with tax information, and e-mail tax questions to the IRS.

However, an even stronger majority said access to a toll-free IRS telephone number to ask questions was "very important." In addition, while 43 percent of respondents said they were "very likely" to e-mail tax questions to the IRS, 57 percent they were "very likely" to use the toll-free telephone number.

Electronic tax filing this season has been stronger than ever before. People e-filed 42.7 million returns through March 11, up 2.5 million over last year’s numbers, according to a March 18 IRS release.

The jump coincides with increased use of IRS 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 3.33 million returns came in through Free File through March 9, a 44 percent increase from 2.32 million returns for the same period last year, the IRS release states.

Tax season ends for most of the public April 15, less than two weeks from now.

A majority of survey respondents also backed the idea of more money for tax enforcement efforts. About 62 percent of survey respondents either "completely" or "mostly" agreed with the statement: "The IRS should receive extra funding to enforce tax laws and ensure taxpayers pay what they owe."

The oversight board has previously recommended that the tax agency receive an additional 9 percent raise in budget authority over the 4.3 percent raise the Bush administration has in store for the tax agency during the next fiscal year.


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About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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