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IRS: More taxpayers filing returns from home computers

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More taxpayers this year have been working through their tax returns using a home computer, the Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday.

The number of tax returns sent electronically from a home computer jumped almost 17 percent compared with this time last year. Nearly 11.4 million tax returns sent electronically to the tax agency were prepared by an individual.

``The home computer is increasingly replacing the paper tax form,'' said IRS Commissioner Mark Everson.

Tax professionals have filed another 28.1 million returns, nearly 4 percent more than had been filed by this time last year. In total, about 39.5 million people filed their tax returns electronically so far.

Taxpayers lost one electronic filing option this year. The IRS discontinued a program that allowed taxpayers with the simplest forms to file through the telephone. The tax agency said fewer taxpayers each year used that filing method.

It's not yet clear whether people who used the TeleFile system have chosen to prepare their own taxes and file electronically, visit a tax professional or ask a volunteer for help preparing a return, a spokesman said.

Overall, the IRS has gotten slightly fewer tax returns so far compared with this time last year. Taxpayers have until April 17 or April 18, depending on their location, to file a return.

Electronic filing can speed delivery of a tax refund. Taxpayers due a refund can, on average, expect to receive a slightly bigger check this year.

So far, the average refund is $2,480, or $109 more than last year. Taxpayers due a refund are often among the first to file their tax returns.
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