More than 12,500 of the nation’s largest corporations electronically filed their 2005 corporate tax returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service.   Large corporate taxpayers, defined as having $50 million or more in assets and filing at least 250 returns, were required to e-file for the first time beginning with their 2005 tax returns. Sept. 15, 2006 was the extended deadline for filing those returns.   In total, more than half a million corporate tax returns were filed electronically, most on a voluntarily basis across a wide array of industries. Based on feedback from external groups, the IRS designed corporate e-file to be flexible enough to accommodate the various needs of large business filers, such as allowing transition rules during the first year. In a statement, the IRS noted that many business taxpayers used commercial software to prepare their returns, with about 400 taxpayers transmitting the return themselves.   The agency hopes that electronic filing will allow the IRS to shave many months off of the audit process while allowing examiners to develop analytical tools to better select areas of audit inquiry.   The electronic filing requirements will be expanded to include 2006 tax year returns of corporations with $10 million or more in total assets that file 250 or more returns a year.    E-file has been available to corporations since 2004.

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