CFO Alex Sink photo

Volume 4 Number 12
March 23, 2007

IRS WEB SITE, WHERE'S MY REFUND, SEES INCREASED USE

The Internal Revenue Service released statistics today showing that taxpayers’ use of IRS.gov, which includes features such as Where’s My Refund is increasing.  Use of the IRS website has increased 9 percent over this time last year to 83.3 million visits.   

Where’s My Refund is the IRS Internet-based service taxpayers can use to check on the status of their federal income tax refunds.  Nearly 21 million requests have been received on Where’s My Refund this year, representing a growth of more than 3.9 million users compared to the same period last year.

“Where’s My Refund is easy to use,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “It is the fastest way to check on a refund.  Taxpayers who file Form 1040EZ-T can also take advantage of Where’s My Refund to find out about the telephone excise tax refund.”

Taxpayers can check their refund status online anytime from anywhere.  It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide, only by visiting IRS.gov.  Taxpayers can securely access their personal refund information by entering their Social Security number, filing status and the exact amount of their refund.  These shared secrets, known only to the taxpayer and IRS, verify the person is authorized to access the account.

Taxpayers can check on the status of their federal income tax refunds seven days after they e-filed their return.  If they file a paper return, they can check four to six weeks after mailing their return. 

For the first time this year, taxpayers who chose direct deposit can split their refunds among as many as three accounts held by up to three different U.S. financial institutions.  Split refunds offer taxpayers the opportunity to manage their money by sending part of their refund to one account for immediate needs and another part to a savings or investment account.  The average refund at this point, which typically declines between now and the end of the filing season, is more than $2,800.  

Where’s My Refund will include a message confirming the refund was split and the expected deposit date.  It will not specify the amount of individual deposits or the accounts to which the deposits were made.

Taxpayers can use Where’s My Refund to verify when their refunds are scheduled for direct deposits or mailing, initiate a trace on lost or missing refund checks, and/or notify IRS of address changes in case of undeliverable refund checks.

The IRS reminds taxpayers they can avoid undelivered refund checks by having their refund checks deposited into a personal checking or savings account.  Direct deposit also guards against theft and lost refund checks.  Direct deposit is available for both paper and electronically filed returns.

Compared to this time last year, there is a 5.6 percent increase in the number of taxpayers who have chosen direct deposit for their refund.  So far, refunds total about $110 billion, a 9 percent increase over last year.   

The IRS also reports a substantial increase in the number of taxpayers who are preparing their returns and filing online. 

The table below shows an 8 percent increase in self-prepared online filing over the same period last year.  Tax professional e-file also has increased by close to 4 percent over last year.  Overall, e-filed returns are up nearly 5 percent, with about 45.5 million taxpayers e-filing their return. 

In addition, this year’s filings show about three in 10 tax returns are not requesting the one-time telephone tax refund. The standard amount ranges from $30 to $60 and is based on the number of exemptions a taxpayer is eligible to claim on their return. Although some of these taxpayers may not be eligible, others may qualify and not know it. The IRS urges taxpayers to check their eligibility for this special refund by visiting the Telephone Excise Tax Refund section on IRS.gov.  Taxpayers who are not required to file a return can request the Telephone Excise Tax Refund by filing the 1040-EZT. 

2007 FILING SEASON STATISTICS

Cumulative through the weeks ending 3/10/06 and 3/9/07

Individual Income Tax Returns

2006

2007

% Change

Total Receipts

60,657,000

61,123,000

0.8%

Total Processed

56,028,000

56,974,000

1.7%

 

 

 

 

E-filing Receipts:

 

 

 

TOTAL

43,356,000

45,498,000

4.9%

Tax Professionals

31,010,000

32,156,000

3.7%

Self-prepared

12,346,000

13,342,000

8.1%

 

 

 

 

Web Usage:

 

 

 

Visits to IRS.gov

76,449,000

83,365,000

9.0%

 

 

 

 

Total Refunds:

 

 

 

Number

50,656,000

50,515,000

-0.3%

Amount

$122.752

Billion

$128.736

Billion

4.9%

Average refund

$2,423

$2,548

5.2%

 

 

 

 

Direct Deposit Refunds:

 

 

 

Number

37,031,000

39,088,000

5.6%

Amount

$101.009

Billion

$110.090

Billion

9.0%

Average refund

$2,728

$2,816

3.3%



 


 

 



Do you qualifu for the EITC? (Earned Income Tax Credit? Learn more.

FREE FILE AVAILABLE FOR REQUESTING TELEPHONE TAX REFUND
Service Includes People Who Do Not Need to File a Tax Return

The Internal Revenue Service reminds telephone customers who do not normally file tax returns that they can use Free File to request the telephone excise tax refund. This group includes low-income people, many of them senior citizens. IRS's Free File is the easiest and quickest way to request the refund, which, if directly deposited, could arrive in the taxpayer's bank account in two weeks or less.

“This program provides the option for most people to do their taxes electronically and for free," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. "Free File is a great choice for people who don’t normally need to file a tax return but who are entitled to this special telephone excise tax refund.”

The refund covers the 3-percent tax paid on long-distance and bundled service billed after Feb. 28, 2003, and before Aug. 1, 2006.

Federal long-distance excise taxes paid on land line, cell phone, fax and Internet phone service qualify for the refund. This includes bundled service — local and long-distance service provided under a plan that does not separately list the charge for local service. Bundled service includes, for example, phone plans that provide both local and long-distance service for either a flat monthly fee or a charge that varies with the time for which the service is used. CONTINUED

The tax no longer applies to these kinds of service, though it continues to apply to local-only phone service.

Telephone customers have two choices for requesting the refund. They may:

·          Use the actual amount of tax paid, as shown on phone bills and other records; or 

·          Use a standard amount. This amount ranges from $30 to $60, based on the number of personal exemptions the customer is eligible to claim.

Both choices are available through IRS Free File. Just go to IRS.gov, click "2007 Free File" and follow the directions. Three Free File Alliance members are providing free access to Form 1040EZ-T to request the standard amount. Some Alliance members are also offering free access to Form 8913 to request the actual amount.

Free File is a program run by the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a consortium of tax preparation software companies. Seventy percent of the nation’s taxpayers — those with an adjusted gross income of $52,000 or less — are eligible for Free File. Each company sets its own criteria for who can use the service. The program is available only through IRS.gov.

Alternatively, low-income telephone customers who prefer having someone else prepare their refund request can get free help by visiting one of more than 12,000  neighborhood tax-assistance sites nationwide. Trained community volunteers fill out telephone tax refund requests and basic income-tax returns for low-income people and senior citizens. To locate the nearest volunteer tax-help site, call AARP at 1-888-227-7669 or the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Free File users who forgot to request the telephone excise tax refund can file an amended return using Form 1040X. To avoid delaying a refund request, the IRS recommends that Free File users wait until three weeks after they filed their original return before sending in Form 1040X. This form cannot be e-filed; it must be filed by paper. Form 1040X can be downloaded from IRS.gov.