IRS News Release  
February 26, 1996

Telephone Filing Popular with Taxpayers

WASHINGTON - Filing by phone has been quite popular among taxpayers looking for alternatives to traditional paper returns. As of Feb. 22, the IRS had accepted over two million returns through its TeleFile system. TeleFile is available nationwide for most single taxpayers who would otherwise use Form 1040EZ.

"The flood of TeleFile returns confirms our view that taxpayers are enthusiastic about new approaches that make things easier for them," said IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson. "TeleFile seems to have caught on."

The IRS sent special TeleFile packages to nearly 23 million taxpayers this year, inviting them to use the paperless system. The booklet includes a Personal Identification Number which is used as a signature. Only those who have the special packages can use TeleFile. The IRS does not send replacement booklets.

Taxpayers are taking advantage of the fact that TeleFile is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While only 10 percent of the calls so far have come before 10:00 am, nearly half were between 4:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Calls have been spread fairly evenly throughout the week, with only a slightly lower percentage of calls on weekend days than at mid-week.

The TeleFile system prompts the caller to enter data from the Form W-2 wage statements received. TeleFile then figures the total income, tax, and any refund or balance due. Because of this computerization, TeleFile returns are nearly error-free.

TeleFile is not only accurate, it's quick. The average time to complete the filing by phone has been just under nine minutes.

The strongest response to TeleFile has come from taxpayers in Massachusetts, where the state also offers TeleFile for state tax returns. Over 118,000 federal TeleFile returns have already come in, nearly twice the number expected for the whole year.

Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming have also surpassed TeleFile expectations for the year and over half of the remaining IRS districts are ahead of projections for this point in the filing season.

                      1996 FILING SEASON STATISTICS

Cumulative through the week ending 2/17/95 and 2/16/96

                       1995         1996        % Change

Individual Income Tax Returns

Total Receipts      28,019,000   26,205,000      -6.5
Total Processed     14,852,000   14,835,000      -0.1

Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts:

Standard Electronic  6,720,000    6,584,000       -2.0
TeleFile               478,000    1,792,000      274.9
1040PC Format          228,000    1,005,000      340.8

Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:

Number               8,044,000    8,283,000        3.0
Amount of principal $8.983 bil. $12.000 bil.      33.6

Average refund           $1117        $1448       29.7

(NOTE: refund data should NOT be compared to the "processed" numbers above, since those figures reflect Service Center processing, which is completed at least a week before refunds are certified at the Computing Center).

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