The Internal Revenue Service announced that the recently completed 2006 filing season set a series of records, highlighted by 70 million tax returns being filed electronically this year and home computer usage jumping 18 percent.

The jump in e-filing reflected a larger increase in the use of electronic services. The IRS saw new records in filings from home computers and the use of IRS.gov.

"We saw a surge of e-filing at the end of the tax season, particularly with people using software on home computers. Compared to recent years, we had much more e-filing in the weeks leading up to the deadline, signaling that more balance-due filers are embracing this service," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson, in a statement. "Overall, we received more tax returns electronically this year than the number of paper returns we processed for the entire United States in 1966. E-file is changing the way the nation does taxes."

The 70 million e-file returns accepted through April 21 topped the 68.5 million electronic returns received for all of 2005. The agency expects the e-file number to increase before the close of the e-filing season in October. Taxpayers who filed for extensions can use e-file until Oct. 16.

Through April 21, the IRS had received 50 million returns from tax professionals, up 9 percent from the same period last year. The agency has also issued 85 million refunds, averaging $2,237 per refund, with more than 60 percent being issued through direct deposit, representing a 7 percent increase from last year. There have been 122 million visits to IRS.gov, up from 113 million for the same period last year.

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