IRS News Release  
December 01, 1995

Telefile: Tax Filing by Phone
*** Was Discontinued by the IRS in August 2005 ***

TeleFile is a completely automated way to file an individual federal income tax return. It is an interactive computer program that begins the electronic filing process over the telephone at no cost to the taxpayer. The call takes about ten minutes. The taxpayer mails no forms to the IRS, but enters a personal identification number instead of signing a paper form.

The IRS will mail approximately 23 million TeleFile tax booklets for the 1996 filing season, and expects to receive about three million TeleFile returns. Each year, 80 percent of the people who get TeleFile tax booklets remain eligible to use TeleFile, i.e., they do not change their name or residence and they would otherwise use Form 1040EZ.

For the 1995 filing season, the IRS received about 680,000 TeleFile returns. 1995 was also the first year that Spanish-speaking taxpayers could access the system and hear Spanish prompts. The IRS received 1,247 Spanish TeleFile returns.

Requirements for TeleFile

If you receive a TeleFile tax booklet, you may use the system provided you:

  • have no changes to your name, social security number or address that are printed on the tax booklet label;
  • are single and have no dependents;
  • have taxable income of less than $50,000;
  • have W-2 forms for all wages and taxable scholarship or fellowship grants, but not more than five W-2s;
  • have taxable interest income of $400 or less;
  • have no income from unemployment compensation; and
  • do not owe any employment taxes on wages paid to a household worker.

If you lose the TeleFile tax booklet that you get in the mail, the IRS will not issue a new one. TeleFile worksheets and instructions will not be available at libraries, post offices or other places where taxpayers can get tax forms.

How To Use TeleFile

  • The IRS mails a special TeleFile tax booklet to those who may be eligible to file by phone. If you do not get this booklet in the mail, you cannot TeleFile.
  • Fill out the TeleFile worksheet, including: - whether you want $3 to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund; - whether you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return; - your total taxable interest income; and - the TeleFile earned income tax credit checklist.
  • Reach the system by calling the toll-free number shown in the tax booklet for your state. The lines are open 24 hours a day, starting at 9:00 a.m., January 11, 1996.
  • TeleFile prompts you for the information from the worksheet, the label on your tax booklet, and these items from each W-2 form separately: - wages, - federal income tax withheld, and - your employer's identification number.
  • A voice prompt repeats each entry after you key it in, so you can correct any mistake before proceeding.
  • TeleFile computes your adjusted gross income, your taxable income, your tax, the earned income tax credit -- if you qualify for it -- and your refund or balance due. If your owe tax, you must mail your payment by April 15.
  • Enter your personal identification number found in the tax booklet. This takes the place of signing a paper form. Then mail nothing to the IRS, except a payment if you owe taxes.
  • Wait for TeleFile to give you a confirmation number. If you hang up before hearing this number, the IRS does not accept your return.

How to Correct a TeleFile Return

If you receive additional W-2 forms or interest income documents after calling, or if you make a mistake during the call but don't realize it until after hanging up, file Form 1040X, "Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return," clearly showing the corrected error.

History of TeleFile

1992 -- TeleFile began as a two-year test in Ohio. Approximately 126,000 people filed.

1993 -- Approximately 150,000 people filed in the second year of the test.

1994 -- TeleFile began operating as a regular filing alternative and expanded to Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina and West Virginia. Approximately 500,000 people filed.

1995 -- TeleFile expanded to Colorado and parts of California and Texas. First year for Spanish voice prompts. Approximately 680,000 people filed.

1996 -- TeleFile will be a national, paperless. program in English and Spanish. Approximately three million people are expected to file.

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