IRS News Release  
March 03, 1994

Millions Get Help Through Tele-Tax

WASHINGTON - Millions of people who called the Internal Revenue Service last filing season got information without saying a word--and are doing it again this year. They're calling Tele-Tax--a toll free, automated service--and selecting recorded messages from about 140 available tax topics. And after filing their returns, they're calling back to find out when to expect their refunds.

Tapes on dependents, the earned income credit and electronic filing have led the Tele-Tax "top hits" the last two years. Other popular tapes explain what to do if you can't pay your tax, the credit for the elderly, child care credit and filing status. Among this year's new subjects are advance earned income credit payments, disaster area losses and rollovers from retirement plans. Fifteen tapes are in Spanish, including four specifically for Puerto Rico residents.

The refund feature is the more popular use of Tele-Tax. Callers made over 24 million refund inquiries in the first six months of 1993, and about 4.5 million requests for tax tapes.

Taxpayers should allow a few weeks for the IRS to process their returns before calling about refunds. The IRS updates this information every week, so callers who don't get a refund mailing date from Tele-Tax should wait seven days before calling back.

Touch-tone users can access the recorded tapes 24 hours a day, every day, and can get refund information form 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays. Others may call during normal business hours, generally 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In addition to a toll-free number--1-800-829-4477--many large cities also have local Tele-Tax lines. The tax instruction books list such numbers, the full selection of subjects available and details on how to get refund information.

As of February 25, the IRS had received over 35 million returns, about five percent fewer than the same time last year. Federal tax refunds now total nearly $18.6 billion. At $1,161, the average refund is up more than seven percent.

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