IRS E-filing Hits Record

A record number of taxpayers electronically filed their individual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service for the 2007 tax filing season, the agency reported Tuesday.

The 76.7 million e-filed returns the IRS accepted through May 4 topped the 73.2 million electronically-filed returns received for all of 2006, with most of the increase coming in March and April, the IRS reported.

The agency's Web site, IRS.gov, also hit a record, receiving 140 million visits. A record 22 million people filed electronically from their home computers.

“E-file and our other electronic services helped us deliver a strong filing season for the nation’s taxpayers,” IRS Acting Commissioner Kevin Brown said in a statement. “Again this year, millions of additional taxpayers gave up paper tax returns to file electronically."

According to the IRS, the 2007 tax season saw a surge in electronic filing among last-minute filers, a group that has traditionally sent in paper returns. During the week that included this year’s tax-filing deadline (April 14 to 20), the number of electronically-filed returns received by the IRS jumped 35 percent over the comparable week last year. The overall number of returns (paper and electronic) received during that week rose only 12 percent, the IRS said.

Despite the positive numbers, the popularity of the Free File program -- an alliance of companies that offer free return preparation and electronic filing on their Web sites to eligible taxpayers -- for electronically filing federal income-tax returns continues to decline, according to the Government Accountability Office. According to an April GAO report, taxpayers' use of the Free File program declined 5.5 percent from the previous year. Free File, now 5 years old, is available to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of up to $52,000 or about 70 percent of U.S. individuals.