March 12, 1998
Electronic Methods Popular for Tax Help
WASHINGTON - With the April 15
tax filing deadline a little more than a month away, the Internal Revenue Service expects
its Web site and TaxFax services -already handling more than twice as much traffic as last
year -- to become even busier.
"It's the age of electronic information, and taxpayers
appreciate the electronic services we offer," said IRS Commissioner Charles 0.
Rossotti. "Whether it's a form, a publication, or an answer to a question, taxpayers
are getting it by computer, by fax or by phone."
The IRS Web site -- www.irs.ustreas.gov
- features special sections for
individuals, businesses and even tax professionals. The site has received more than 166
million hits in 1998, nearly triple the 57 million hits at this time last year. Through
February, it had more than five million downloads, more than double last year's 2.4
million in the same period.
Among the site's features are interactive "Tax
Trails," which help taxpayers see how tax issues apply to them through a series of
yes-or-no prompts. There are also nearly 200 Frequently Asked Tax Questions, conveniently
grouped in more than a dozen subject categories. Audit technique guides and training
materials on worker classification let businesses know what records or issues might be
relevant for the IRS. Users may download the IRS forms or publications they need to do
their tax returns.
Tax professionals may use the Web site to download the weekly
Internal Revenue Bulletin or even get technical items in advance of their publication in
the Bulletin. They may also e-mail comments on proposed regulations or research the
Internal Revenue Manual, the Code, or tax regulations.
IRS TaxFax is a fax-on-demand service, available 24 hours a
day. From a fax machine, call 703-368-9694 and use the keypad to request a specific item
by return fax. Users can find lists and order numbers of the 144 forms and instructions
available, as well as the 147 tax information topics, in the tax instruction booklet. Or
they can have the system fax an index of available products. TaxFax completed more than
500,000 faxes the first two months of 1998, nearly double this period last year.
Another service is TeleTax, with tax information messages at
1-800-829-4477. The tax instructions list the code numbers for available TeleTax subjects.
Callers can also use the system's voice prompts to select a topic. The texts of the
TeleTax messages are also available through IRS TaxFax and the IRS Web site.
TeleTax also offers an automated feature not found elsewhere
-- tax refund information. Taxpayers should wait at least four weeks after filing -- three
weeks for those who filed electronically -- before calling about a refund. They must
provide the social security number, filing status and expected refund amount from the tax
return. If the return has been processed, the system tells when the refund is scheduled to
be sent. Refund information is updated each weekend. More than 15 million of TeleTax's 20
million calls so far this year have been for refund information.
1998 FILING SEASON STATISTICS
Cumulative through the week ending 3/7/97 and 3/6/98
1997 1998 % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns
Total Receipts 45,219,000 45,045,000 -0.4
Total Processed 31,210,000 34,110,000 9.3
E-filing --Total Receipts:
Standard E-file 10,921,000 13,305,000 21.8
TeleFile 3,495,000 4,375,000 25.2
Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:
Number 28,535,000 31,051,000 8.8
Amount of principal $40.464 bil. $45.022 bil. 11.3
Average refund $1418 $1450 2.2
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