IRS makes e-improvements for 2006 tax season

The IRS has improved the navigation and search engine at its IRS.gov Web site for better results as part of its kickoff for the 2006 tax filing season. The agency has also increased the number of options for paying taxes electronically.

The tax agency has redesigned IRS.gov with updated electronic tools to make it easier to find needed forms and publications and tax information. A drop-down menu titled 'I need to' provides taxpayers with more direct access to frequently requested information.

In 2005, 68 million Americans'more than one-half of all income tax filers'filed their tax returns electronically.

'We expect e-file will continue to grow this year,' said IRS commissioner Mark Everson.

Taxpayers in 37 states and the District of Columbia can e-file their federal and state tax returns in one transmission to the IRS, which will forward the state data to the appropriate state tax agency.

New this year, the IRS site also provides an automated worksheet, the AMT Assistant, to help tax filers determine whether they are subject to the alternative minimum tax.

In 2005, IRS direct-deposited 52.7 million refunds to tax filers, 7 percent more than the 49.3 million in 2004. The average direct-deposited refund in 2005 was $2,544. Tax filers can receive their refund within two weeks of electronically filing their return and requesting direct deposit, compared with filing paper returns and receiving refund checks.

Taxpayers can pay what they owe through electronic funds withdrawal or by credit card. Some tax software developers offer integrated e-file and e-pay capabilities for those who choose to use a credit card to pay their balance.

For the 2006 filing season, IRS has awarded contracts to Link2Gov Corp. of Nashville, Tenn., and Official Payments Corp. of Reston, Va., to accept credit card charges from both electronic and paper filers.

Businesses can use electronic funds withdrawal for employment, corporate and fiduciary tax returns. In 2006, businesses also will be able to use credit card payment for taxes owed on employment tax returns. Taxpayers and businesses can also pay taxes without extra fees through the Treasury Department's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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