IRS News Release  
April 09, 1997

IRS Extending Phone Hours for
the "Final Four"

WASHINGTON - Facing its own "April Madness," the Internal Revenue Service today announced its version of the "Final Four." On the final four days of the tax filing season -- Saturday, April 12 through Tuesday, April 15 -- the IRS will open its tax help lines from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., local time. The toll- free number is 1-800-829-1040.

"We expect taxpayers to dunk around 27 million returns into our mail baskets next week," said IRS Commissioner and "Head Coach" Margaret Milner Richardson. "Millions of taxpayers do their forms as the final April 15 buzzer approaches -- we want to give them an assist in scoring their returns without any fouls."

The IRS has substantially increased the accessibility of its phone lines this filing season, handling over 70 percent of callers. Its live and automated assistance lines had served nearly 55 million callers as of March 29.

Totals on the IRS electronic scoreboard are at new highs. Over 17 million taxpayers have filed electronic returns. This includes 300,000 who used the OnLine Filing Program to send the returns from their personal computers, more than double last year■s pace. More than 4 million taxpayers have used TeleFile, the file-by-phone system -- a 57 percent increase over last year.

Over 13 million taxpayers got a "fast break" on their refunds with direct deposit to their bank accounts, up 48 percent over last year. The IRS made this option easier by providing a place for the necessary account numbers right on the tax return.

The IRS Website -- www.irs.ustreas.gov -- is a strong MVP contender, with over 85 million hits this filing season, more than double the volume for the same period last year. Last-minute filers may find "traveling" the "Tax Trails" section especially helpful. Its interactive pages -- in which users respond to brief prompts -- give information appropriate to the taxpayer's specific circumstances. From the home page, click on "Tax Info for You," then on "Tax Trails." The IRS added ten new Tax Trails topics just last week, including such things as filing status, dependents, capital gains, interest and miscellaneous income.

Computer users may also download federal tax forms or publications from the Website or from the IRIS bulletin board, via modem at 703-321-8020. The Website had 3.8 million downloads through March, almost equal to the total for all of 1996.

Fax machine users may access TaxFax at 703-487-4160. This automated system offers forms and instructions by return fax. It cannot receive faxes nor respond to regular phone calls. It has handled over a half million orders this filing season, ten times the total for all of last year.

Many public libraries stock basic tax forms and have other forms available for photocopying.

As of April 4, the IRS had processed over 46 million refunds, totaling $61.5 billion. The average refund -- $1,327 - - is up 6.6 percent from this time last year.

1997 FILING SEASON STATISTICS
Cumulative through the week ending 4/5/96 and 4/4/97
                       1996                1997        % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns
Total Receipts       67,093,000         66,873,000       - 3.3
Total Processed      57,349,000         56,366,000       - 1.7 
Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts:
Standard Electronic  11,022,000         13,007,000        18.0
TeleFile              2,591,000          4,072,000        57.2
1040PC Format         3,871,000          4,488,000        15.9
Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:
Number               46,509,000         46,335,000       - 0.4
Amount of principal $57.882 billion   $61.499 billion      6.3
Average refund          $1245              $1327           6.6
  (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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