This was originally going to be a story about people doing their taxes at Kinkos, but another story emerged. It soon became clear that the real story was about the popularity of electronic tax filing.
The IRS was encouraging the trend. They find there are less errors in returns that are filed electronically, and that they are able to process electronic returns very quickly.
Electronic income tax filing could be coming of age.
The latest figures indicate that nearly 2.2 million taxpayers have filed their taxes electronically on personal or home computers, an increase of more than 96 percent in usage from individuals who had filed this way by the end of February.
Regional IRS spokesperson Bill Cressman said his office is “experiencing tremendous growth” in the home/personal computer version of electronic filing, a trend which, he indicated, is in the best interest of the federal government and taxpayer.
These figures are indicative, he said, of the increasing popularity and acceptance of this mode of filing by the public.
IRS regional spokeswoman Donna Hargrave sad that “streamlining” their process to include electronic filing is not only more cot effective for the IRS and consequently the taxpayer, but can “make taxes less taxing” for the taxpayer.
Cressman agreed that this type of filing, done through an authorized tax filing software package, is faster, easier, and more accurate that returns prepared by hand.
“Ninety-nine percent of errors made on a paper return are avoided on computer,” he said. He said the filing packages check math for the user and will not allow a submission until information has been entered into all necessary fields.
“You can’t claim an exception” he explained, without filling out the name, relationship and Social Security number of the person. “It is all checked and verified before you even file.”
The programs are menu-driven and route “you through the entire return,” said Hargrave. They “pick up errors as you go,” she said.
This type of filing cuts processing time in half, Cressman said. Electronic filers expecting a refund, he said, should have it in about two weeks. Those choosing the direct-deposit option, he said, can expect it in 10 days.
Within 48 hours of submission, he said, filers get an electronic proof of receipt.
“It is the only true receipt,” he said, emphasizing that even those who send their returns through certified mail do not have this type of proof.
He said he has used two different programs and “found both user friendly.”
One of the packages, which he declined to name, was more thorough, he said, asking more questions and prompting him to consider eligibility for a deductible. All packages have had to meet IRS requirements for accuracy, he said.
Hargave said packages authorized by the IRS have gone “through a series of suitability tests.” Read more…
Reprinted with permission from the Delaware County Daily Times.