IRS News Release  
February 15, 1989

Be Sure to Check for Errors

More than 334,000 taxpayers filed their 1988 income tax return electronically as of February 10, the Internal Revenue Service said today. That figure is more than three times the number filed at the same time last year.

Electronic filing is offered in 36 states as an optional way to file refund returns and results in quicker refunds -- usually about three weeks, rather than the four to six weeks needed to process paper returns. Electronic filing will be offered throughout the country for the next filing season.

Overall 16.6 million taxpayers have already filed their returns representing about 15 percent of the 109 million returns the IRS expects to receive this year. Receipts of returns are about 300,000 returns lower than at this same point last year -- about 2 percent fewer returns have come in so far. However, the IRS pointed out that returns are being processed faster than last year and encouraged taxpayers to file as soon as possible before volumes increase.

Refund returns are up. The IRS said it had certified for refund 1.8 million returns this year compared to 1.7 million at this time last year. The average refund amount -- $772 -- is also up over last years' average for this time -- $743.

Updating an announcement from last week, the IRS said that the refund checks that were postponed from last week are on schedule and will be mailed on February 17,

Because errors on returns slow processing -- whether simple math errors or missing items or schedules -- the IRS encourages everyone to prepare returns carefully and check them for accuracy. In processing the returns received so far this year, the IRS continues to note that some filers of Form 1040A are not correctly claiming the standard deduction. If you are planning to file Form 1040A, be sure to read the instructions in the forms package and make sure you use the appropriate worksheet on page 28 or 29 to figure your correct standard deduction.

Common errors taxpayers made last year include failing to check whether they can be claimed as a dependent on another's return, failing to claim the earned income credit that many low- income taxpayers are entitled to, and making math errors in figuring taxable income and refund amounts.

In addition to checking the return carefully for accuracy, taxpayers can also help themselves by using the free tax services the IRS offers. Forms and helpful publications are listed in the tax package and can be ordered by calling 1-800-424-FORM (3676). Recorded tax information on over 150 tax topics is available on the Tele-Tax system by calling the toll-free numbers listed in the tax package and is available 24 hours a day on push-button (tone signaling) phones. The IRS says it has received 2.3 million calls on Tele-Tax so far this year as compared to 1.2 million the same time last year.

Taxpayers can also call IRS toll-free with specific tax questions not answered in the forms or instructions. Local numbers are listed in the tax package, along with a general number -- 1-800-424-1040 -- for other areas. Many IRS toll-free answering sites operate with extended hours to allow more callers to get in without getting a busy signal. It is generally better to call during these hours or late in the week.

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