GE touts benefits of corporate e-filing

General Electric gave up its confidentiality with the Internal Revenue Service today to announce that it has successfully filed this year’s tax return online.

What would have been a 24,000-page document became the country’s largest e-filed tax return, the IRS said in a press release.

At a press conference today, GE’s vice president and senior tax counsel, John Samuels, said the corporation received the IRS’ acknowledgment of its filing in about an hour. The file was 237M.

This is the first year that certain large corporations with assets of more than $50 million were required to file their tax returns electronically.

“This was not welcome news throughout the corporate taxpayer community,” said Bruce Ungar, deputy commissioner for the IRS’ Large and Mid-Size Business Division, at the press conference.

Corporations have been able to file electronically on a voluntary basis since 2004. In 2005, more than 200,000 corporations filed their income tax returns electronically.

The IRS expects more than 10,000 of those large corporations to file electronically by the extended deadline of Sept. 15. More than 4,750 large corporations have already filed electronically this year, including 3,042 with assets of $50 million or more.

“Anything we can digitize, we try to digitize,” Samuels said.

“The corporate e-file effort helps improve audit efficiency while reducing the cost of transcribing data from paper to the IRS database,” said Deborah Nolan, commissioner of the IRS’ Large and Mid-Size Business Division, in a statement.

Samuels didn’t quantify GE’s savings due to e-filing. He only said the corporation saved many millions of dollars from out-of-pocket costs by filing online.

IRS officials were pleased with GE’s willingness to speaking openly about its e-filing experience.

“We believe other corporations will notice that and find it hard to discount what GE has achieved relative to the hurdles that are ahead of them,” Ungar said.

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