Washington (March 7, 2003) -- Taxpayers have made IRS.gov the Internet's most visited resource for tax information, with more than 1.4 billion hits so far this filing season. The IRS Web site currently sits at No. 2 on the Lycos 50 list and No. 8 on the Yahoo! Buzz Index, based on the number of people who search each site for specific words or subjects.Two of the hottest features on IRS.gov, www.irs.gov , are the "Where's My Refund?" service and Free File, the public-private partnership that offers free e-filing and tax preparation for eligible taxpayers. Taxpayers used the "Where's My Refund?" service more than 4.5 million times in February to search for the status of their refund and more than a million tax returns have been filed using Free File.

"IRS.gov is one of the best resources available for helping taxpayers during the tax filing season," said Acting IRS Commissioner Bob Wenzel. "It's always open, it's easy to use and it's ready to help with your taxes when your are."

Other highlights for the 2003 filing season through the end of February show that self-prepared e-filed returns stand at 6.2 million, a 30.6 percent increase from the similar time slot last year; the average refund amounts to $2,136, a 2.2 percent increase over last year; and direct-deposit refunds total $62.8 billion, an 11.9 percent increase from last year.

-- Electronic Accountant Newswire staff

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