Taxpayers move to the Web

Taxpayers are continuing to use the Internal Revenue Service's e-file service, and they are doing so from home computers more than they did in 2005, the IRS announced last week.

Of the 60.7 million returns filed this year, 71.5 percent were e-filed, compared with 69.7 percent for the same period last year, the IRS reported March 15. Although this percentage will decline as the April filing deadline approaches, the agency expects e-filed returns to make up more than half of all returns filed. E-filing from a home computer is up almost 17 percent from the same period last year, as opposed to filers who use paid tax preparers.

“People using tax preparation software is driving the increase in e-filing,” IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a press release. “Taxpayers can rely on e-file as a safe, accurate way to quickly finish their taxes and get a refund.”

E-file began as a pilot program in 1986 in three metropolitan areas with 25,000 returns filed electronically — 0.02 percent of all returns that year. More than a decade later, the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 set a goal for the IRS to have 80 percent of returns filed electronically by 2007. The IRS Oversight Board in a December 2005 report to Congress stated that the goal was too lofty and suggested pushing back the goal to 2011. No decision has been made.

Taxpayers have filed more than 13 million returns from home via e-file this tax season, up from slightly more than 11 million for the same period last year.

More people are choosing to have their tax refunds directly deposited than ever before. According to the IRS, the agency has directly deposited almost 40 million refunds, or 70 percent of all refunds issued this tax filing season, up from 67 percent last year.

People are also visiting the IRS Web site — IRS.gov — in record numbers. The IRS has recorded almost 84 million unique visits to the site this year, up from 80 million during the same period last year, an increase of 6.5 percent.

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