The Internal Revenue Service sent out 17.7 million 1040 tax packages during the first of January 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 IRS expects to process about 135 million individual tax returns in 2006 and to see continued growth for its E-file service. The agency passed a milestone last year as more than half the nation's taxpayers filed their tax returns electronically. IRS e-file will be available beginning later in the month.

New features for in 2006 include:

  • EITC 1040 Central -- A section of the site where key forms, information about what's new in the tax code and answers to frequently asked questions are located.
  • Free File -- A service from the IRS and a consortium of tax software manufacturers that provides free tax preparation software and e-filing to individuals who earn approximately $50,000 or less.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax Assistant -- The AMT Assistant is intended to provide a simple test for taxpayers who fill out their tax returns without using software. Similarly, the Earned Income Tax Credit Assistant helps determine an individual's eligibility for the tax credit.
  • Hurricane Assistance Information -- The IRS has established a toll-free number for hurricane victims, 1-866-562-5227. There are also numerous tax law changes for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Wilma, businesses located in the disaster areas and for individuals donating to charities helping the victims.

This year, tax returns must be filed by April 17, 2006, because the traditional date of April 15 falls on a weekend. Some taxpayers living in the Northeast -- Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia -- will have a filing deadline of April 18 because of a state holiday in Massachusetts where the IRS has a processing facility.

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