The Internal Revenue Service’s 27-year-old project of moving more taxpayers into electronic filing hit a milestone with the release on Wednesday of numbers showing a new e-filing rate of 83 percent of individual tax returns.
More than 122 million returns were filed electronically in 2013, 45.2 million of them from home computers, the IRS said in a release noting a 4.6 percent increase over last year’s rate. That, combined with 77 million returns filed by professional tax preparers, brings to 91 percent the portion of returns that -- even if some were printed out and mailed -- were prepared using tax computer software, greatly improving accuracy.
“The greatest growth came in the number of returns that are self-prepared and e-filed from home computers,” IRS spokesman Anthony Burke told Government Executive.
The e-filing rate -- long considered a key performance measure for the agency -- reached 80 percent in 2012, according to the IRS Oversight Board.
Another sign of improved efficiency in administering the tax code is that nearly 77 percent of the 109 million tax refunds -- which totaled $300 billion in 2013 -- were delivered to taxpayers through direct deposit. In addition, the number of Americans visiting the IRS website rose almost 24 percent in 2013 over this same time the previous year, already reaching 430 million visits, the agency reported.
Also on Wednesday, the IRS won plaudits from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which released a report on the agency’s “successful” transition of its e-filing software from a legacy system to a modernized one during 2013.
The TIGTA audit examined IRS’ conversion to an Internet-based platform that provides a single method for filing business and individual tax returns, forms and schedules that speeds up acknowledgments to taxpayers.
“The Modernized e-File project has been a labor-intensive effort lasting more than a decade to revolutionize the way taxpayers transact and communicate with the Internal Revenue Service,” said J. Russell George, Treasury inspector general for tax administration. “So the latest fruit of this effort, the successful migration of processing all individual tax returns to this system and retirement of the Legacy e-File system, can certainly be viewed as a significant milestone for the Internal Revenue Service.”