IRS Says Callers Getting Through

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The IRS has answered 2 million more calls to its toll free line than at this time last year, improving its service by 20 percent, the agency says.

In addition to answering 72 percent of its 800 number calls, up from 52 percent last year, the agency has seen increases in its other electronic customer service initiatives: online filing, filing by phone, Web site traffic and direct deposit of refunds.

While the agency has processed 5.2 percent fewer returns than it had by this time last year, the number of of taxpayers filing their tax returns online from their personal computers has almost tripled, to 177,000. The number of taxpayers using the file-by-phone system, TeleFile, grew from 2.2 million last year at this time to 3.3 million this year. The IRS Web site has been receiving a million hits a day for several weeks.

More than half of the 17 million refunds paid out so far were deposited directly into taxpayers' bank accounts. That's a 36 percent increase over last year.

"We worked hard to assure a good filing season, and it looks like we're being successful," IRS Commissioner Margaret Milner Richardson said. Richardson is leaving the agency at the end of this tax season.

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