IRS Closes in on E-File Goal

The IRS reports that slightly more than 76 percent of all individual tax forms have been submitted electronically through the week ending March 2. That's up from 73.2 percent filed electronically during the same period last year, but still short of the 80 percent goal Congress mandated the tax agency hit for all tax returns (including corporate) filed this tax-filing year. IRS Commissioner Mark Everson acknowledged in late 2005 that the tax agency was unlikely to meet the 80 percent goal in 2007. "If anything, I've been surprised that progress has been sustained to the degree it has," Everson said at the time.

One issue that Everson says ties IRS' hands in reaching the goal is the fact that the agency's Free File program, which provides free online tax preparation through the IRS, is available to only those individuals with adjusted gross income of $52,000 a year or less. Wealthier filers, who may still file electronically, cannot take advantage of the free tax return software. Still, Everson has some ideas for them and their tax preparers, too. He recently warned the tax prep industry that Congress is losing its patience over those who do not file their clients' tax forms electronically. "A lot of members just don't accept the fact that you can't just get online with the IRS and fill in your tax return," he said.