April 09, 1997
IRS Extending Phone Hours for
the "Final Four"
WASHINGTON - Facing its own
"April Madness," the Internal Revenue Service today announced its version of the
"Final Four." On the final four days of the tax filing season -- Saturday, April
12 through Tuesday, April 15 -- the IRS will open its tax help lines from 7:30 a.m. to
10:00 p.m., local time. The toll- free number is 1-800-829-1040.
"We expect taxpayers to dunk around 27 million returns
into our mail baskets next week," said IRS Commissioner and "Head Coach"
Margaret Milner Richardson. "Millions of taxpayers do their forms as the final April
15 buzzer approaches -- we want to give them an assist in scoring their returns without
The IRS has substantially increased the accessibility of its
phone lines this filing season, handling over 70 percent of callers. Its live and
automated assistance lines had served nearly 55 million callers as of March 29.
Totals on the IRS electronic scoreboard are at new highs. Over
17 million taxpayers have filed electronic returns. This includes 300,000 who used the
OnLine Filing Program to send the returns from their personal computers, more than double
last year�s pace. More than 4 million taxpayers have used TeleFile, the file-by-phone
system -- a 57 percent increase over last year.
Over 13 million taxpayers got a "fast break" on
their refunds with direct deposit to their bank accounts, up 48 percent over last year.
The IRS made this option easier by providing a place for the necessary account numbers
right on the tax return.
The IRS Website -- www.irs.ustreas.gov -- is a strong MVP
contender, with over 85 million hits this filing season, more than double the volume for
the same period last year. Last-minute filers may find "traveling" the "Tax
Trails" section especially helpful. Its interactive pages -- in which users respond
to brief prompts -- give information appropriate to the taxpayer's specific circumstances.
From the home page, click on "Tax Info for You," then on "Tax Trails."
The IRS added ten new Tax Trails topics just last week, including such things as filing
status, dependents, capital gains, interest and miscellaneous income.
Computer users may also download federal tax forms or
publications from the Website or from the IRIS bulletin board, via modem at 703-321-8020.
The Website had 3.8 million downloads through March, almost equal to the total for all of
Fax machine users may access TaxFax at 703-487-4160. This
automated system offers forms and instructions by return fax. It cannot receive faxes nor
respond to regular phone calls. It has handled over a half million orders this filing
season, ten times the total for all of last year.
Many public libraries stock basic tax forms and have other
forms available for photocopying.
As of April 4, the IRS had processed over 46 million refunds,
totaling $61.5 billion. The average refund -- $1,327 - - is up 6.6 percent from this time
1997 FILING SEASON STATISTICS
Cumulative through the week ending 4/5/96 and 4/4/97
1996 1997 % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns
Total Receipts 67,093,000 66,873,000 - 3.3
Total Processed 57,349,000 56,366,000 - 1.7
Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts:
Standard Electronic 11,022,000 13,007,000 18.0
TeleFile 2,591,000 4,072,000 57.2
1040PC Format 3,871,000 4,488,000 15.9
Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:
Number 46,509,000 46,335,000 - 0.4
Amount of principal $57.882 billion $61.499 billion 6.3
Average refund $1245 $1327 6.6
(NOTE: refund data should NOT be compared to the "processed"
numbers above, since those figures reflect Service
Center processing, which is completed at least a week
before refunds are certified at the Computing Center)
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