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'87 Taxpayers Slow to File--but IRS Is Not Worried

March 05, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Halfway through the tax-filing season, less than one-third of Americans have mailed in their returns, but the Internal Revenue Service is not worried.

Through Feb. 27, the IRS had received 31.7 million returns, down 2 million--almost 6%--from the same period a year ago.

"We're not at all concerned because we've been further down in the past and still ended the year with a higher number received," IRS spokesman Larry Batdorf said Wednesday.

The agency expects about 105 million returns to be filed this year.

Refunds Average $735

The IRS processed more than 15.2 million returns during January and February, up 3.1% from last year. More than 7.9 million returns have been certified, up 2%. Refunds have totaled $5.8 billion and averaged $735, compared with $5.5 billion and $709 at this time last year.

Batdorf said the IRS is pleased with the second year of its pilot project allowing some taxpayers to file their returns by computer. During the test last year, 26,000 returns were filed electronically; in the first two months this year, 42,383 were filed.

Under the project, professional preparers in seven areas--Cincinnati; Milwaukee; Norfolk, Va.; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Sacramento, and Albany, N.Y.--complete returns for clients and file them via computer. Some individuals with complicated tax situations may not file electronically, although this year the project is accepting returns that include a Schedule C for outside earnings.

Refund Delay Lengthens

"Most refunds from these electronic returns are certified within 15 days," Batdorf said. By comparison, refunds generated by returns filed the conventional way are requiring about four weeks and, as the April 15 deadline approaches, may require six or seven weeks.

"We have high hopes of expanding electronic filing next year and ultimately taking it nationwide," Batdorf said.

The IRS is investigating the feasibility of carrying electronic filing an additional step, under which a refund check would be deposited directly into a taxpayer's bank account.

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