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IRS Oversight Board Reports Good Year for Electronic Tax Filing

(Washington, DC) According to the IRS Oversight Board's Electronic Filing 2011 Annual Report to Congress, which was released today, 2011 was an exceptionally good year for e-filing. This success was aided in part by the start of mandatory electronic filing by certain paid preparers.

The total number of major individual, business and tax exempt returns filed electronically in 2011 grew about 14 percent – the strongest annual growth since 2004. The e-file rate for all major returns now stands at around 67 percent; up from 59 percent in 2010.

The report notes that the e-file rate for individual tax returns is now around 78 percent, and will "almost certainly" surpass 80 percent next year. As a result, the IRS is poised to finally achieve the symbolically important milestone originally included in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.

According to the report, "[W]hile the Board's analysis of the overall trend in electronic filing through 2011 indicates that the IRS will not meet the revised goal of an 80 percent e-file rate for all major tax returns by 2012, it also indicates that the IRS and industry will nevertheless move steadily closer to that mark next year and likely exceed 70 percent."

The Board commended the IRS, tax professionals and policymakers for their concerted actions over the years to advance electronic filing. "As a nation, we're almost there in reaching a long-standing e-filing goal," IRS Oversight Board Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr. said. "Achieving the 80 percent goal of e-filing underscores the importance of setting long-term goals – as well as the impact we all can make when working together."

The report added that to achieve the 80 percent goal for all major tax returns, the IRS and industry needs to devote particular attention to efforts to increase electronic filing among filers of employment tax returns.

The Board also raises the issue of a subsequent long-term goal for electronic tax administration as achievement of the 80 percent e-file goal approaches.

The full report is available at Electronic Filing 2011 Annual Report to Congress.

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