The Internal Revenue Service officially began its 2007 filing season on Thursday, making note of new developments, including telephone excise tax refunds, a new refund deposit feature and recently enacted tax breaks that may require extra attention.

This week the agency is sending out 17 million 1040 tax packages for 2006 to taxpayers who have previously filed paper returns -- the number of paper tax booklets being mailed to Americans continues to decline as more people opt for electronic filing. The agency expects to process about 136 million individual tax returns for 2006, with more than half of those filed electronically.

Detailed instructions on claiming the telephone excise tax refund, taking advantage of a variety of recently enacted tax laws -- the most significant for individual taxpayers involving the deductions for state and local sales tax, higher education tuition and fees, and educator expenses -- as well as how to split refunds among up to three accounts held at U.S. financial institutions, is available at www.IRS.gov.

The site also includes information about the agency’s Free File program, which allows taxpayers earning $52,000 and less to use tax-preparation software free of charge; 1040 Central, a one-stop shop for people looking for key forms and frequently asked questions; and the “Where’s My Refund?” tab which allows taxpayers to securely track their refund after filing.

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