The Internal Revenue Service reported that taxpayers are electronically filing their federal tax returns in record numbers this year.

As of March 6, more than 18 million income tax returns were filed from home computers, up 20 percent compared to the same time last year. So far this year, almost 52 million tax returns have been e-filed, up 6 percent compared to the same time last year. However, the number of people using IRS Free File has fallen from almost 3 million last year to just under 2 million for the same period this year, a reduction of about 30 percent. A number of factors could be causing the decrease in Free File volumes, including national advertising of other free online tax preparation offers and the elimination of electronic filing fees by some software providers.

As of March 6, about 91 percent of tax returns resulted in a refund. This percentage, however, is usually at its highest at the start of the filing season because taxpayers expecting refunds usually file earlier than taxpayers who must make a payment. 

The IRS cautioned that year-to-year analysis of total returns filed will be anomalous this year because last year’s results include those returns filed for the economic stimulus payment. As the year progresses, the IRS expects to receive and process more individual income tax returns during 2009 than in 2007, but fewer than in 2008. 

Cumulative through the weeks ending Mar. 7, 2008 and Mar. 6, 2009
Individual Income Tax Returns 2008 2009 % Change
Total Receipts  63,383,000 63,851,000  0.7%
Total Processed  59,270,000  59,763,000  0.8%
E-filing Receipts:      
TOTAL 48,795,000 51,793,000  6.1%
Tax Professionals 33,419,000 33,349,000 -0.2%
Self-prepared 15,377,000 18,444,000 19.9%
Web Usage:      
Visits to 90,729,850  116,774,933  28.7% 
Total Refunds:      
Number  53,176,000  54,638,000  2.7%
Amount $136.976 Billion $153.579 Billion 12.1%
Average refund $2,576 $2,811 9.1%
Direct Deposit Refunds:      
Number 41,665,000 44,744,000 7.4%
Amount $117.808 Billion $135.613 Billion 15.1%
Average refund $2,827 $3,031 7.2%

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