Washington (March 2, 2004) -- Electronic filing has shown a sharp increase among this tax season's early filers, the Internal Revenue Service reported.

The number of returns filed electronically through Feb. 20 reached 29 million, up more than 2 million, or 8 percent, over the same period last year, the IRS said. More than 6.6 million taxpayers have e-filed from their personal computers, a 23 percent increase.

Early refund statistics show that the IRS has certified 31.8 million refunds, up 4.1 percent over the same time last year. The refunds total $72.8 billion, up from $66.9 billion. The average refund is up $97, or 4.5 percent, to $2,292. The agency said three out of four taxpayers receiving refunds had them deposited directly to their bank accounts.

According to cumulative 2004 filing season statistics through Feb. 20, individual income tax return receipts are up 2.6 percent over the same period last year to 40.11 million, while the total number processed rose 4.2 percent to 34.33 million.

In addition, the total number of returns e-filed by tax preparers is up 5.6 percent to 20.18 million, while the number of self-prepared returns jumped 20.3 percent to 6.63 percent. The IRS reported that the number of returns telefiled fell 7.1 percent to 2.33 million.

-- WebCPA staff

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