IRS News Release  
March 05, 1997

Tax Filing Season Off to a Good Start

WASHINGTON - The tax filing season is off to a good start, with more taxpayers getting assistance, more returns coming in electronically and larger tax refunds going out.

"We worked hard to assure a good filing season, and it looks like we're being successful," said IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson. "We've seen significant increases in electronic activity, from OnLine Filing to TeleFile to our Website to direct deposit of refunds. But most important, we're providing better service than ever to taxpayers, answering 72 percent of callers, up from 52 percent at this time last year. That's an increase of almost 2 million callers we have helped this year."

OnLine Filing -- in which taxpayers send returns from their personal computers through an approved transmitter to the IRS -- has almost tripled. At 177,000 returns, it already exceeds the program's 1996 total.

TeleFile, the file-by-phone system, has grown by over 50 percent, with 3.3 million users, also more than all of last year.

The IRS Website -- with a variety of tax information, plus forms and publications for downloading -- has had several weeks with one million hits a day. With 53 million hits, it has already edged past last filing season's total.

Over half of the 17 million refunds paid out so far have been deposited directly to taxpayers' bank accounts, a 36 percent increase over last year.

The IRS has processed almost $26 billion in refunds, compared with $24 billion this time last year. The average refund -- $1524 -- is almost 10 percent higher than last year's.

Cumulative through the week ending 3/1/96 and 2/28/97
                       1996                1997        % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns
Total Receipts       40,160,000         39,050,000       - 2.8
Total Processed      25,819,000         24,488,000       - 5.2 
Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts:
Standard Electronic   8,601,000         10,117,000        17.6
TeleFile              2,164,000          3,282,000        51.7
1040PC Format         1,938,000          2,278,000        17.5
Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:
Number               17,429,000         17,030,000       - 2.3
Amount of principal  $24.167 billion   $25.951 billion     7.4
Average refund          $1387              $1524           9.9

  (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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