Last-minute filers turn to e-file

In the final hours before the midnight April 15 tax deadline, electronic filing remains the fastest and easiest way to submit returns and minimize errors, IRS commissioner Mark Everson said. Taxpayers may file and pay electronically on time until midnight. E-filers may pay taxes they owe by authorizing a no-fee electronic funds withdrawal from a checking or savings account.

E-filing by home computer users and tax professionals continued to surge as the deadline approached. By April 9, IRS had received 51.7 million returns electronically, 12 percent more than last year.

E-filing from home computers topped 11.8 million, a 19.6 percent jump from last year, and 2.9 million taxpayers filed via the Free File program, already surpassing last year's total of 2.8 million. The free e-filing service offered by vendors to taxpayers who meet certain criteria is available at Tax professionals also e-filed more than 36.6 million returns, up 11.8 percent from last year.

Software that IRS introduced earlier this year lets corporations file returns electronically as well. The modernized platform is designed to improve the IRS' customer service and save companies time and money.

IRS has received slightly fewer returns in total than at the same time last year, 89.4 million compared with 90.2 million, but the tax agency has processed more this year.

Tax filers can get help at the Web site, which has local office schedules and interactive tax aids, as well as forms and publications for downloading. The site also has links to companies offering free e-filing, information about filing an extension and last-minute tips.

The IRS has reported significant traffic at its Web site:
  • The 'Where's My Refund?' feature generated more than 17.4 million uses through last week. The service is accessible from the home page. Instructions guide taxpayers through a process that asks their Social Security Number, filing status and refund amount.

  • Another 10.1 million taxpayers have used to double-check the amount of the advance Child Tax Credit they received last year. Taxpayers who claim the Child Tax Credit this year must remember to reduce it by the amount of the advance Child Tax Credit payment received in 2003. This has been the most common error made by taxpayers this year.

  • About the Author

    Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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