IRS pushes e-filing to ease tax pain

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With millions of tax forms making their annual pilgrimage through the U.S. mail system to taxpayers' homes, the Internal Revenue Service is promoting using the Internet this year to make paying taxes simpler. "WE WANT TO make it easier than ever for taxpayers to get help, and does just that," said IRS Acting Commissioner Bob Wenzel.

The agency expects to mail out about 38 million tax form packages and another 25 million brochures aimed at people likely to use a computer to do their taxes. The packages should arrive early this month.

"This is the first year where you can do almost everything on-line at," said IRS spokeswoman Nancy Mathis.

The upcoming filing season is expected to see about 132 million returns filed, including 54 million filed electronically. Electronic, or e-filing, could be boosted by a new initiative aimed at reducing its costs and widening its availability.

The IRS and a consortium of tax software companies are to unveil the details of the Free File initiative in mid-January. Under the plan, companies will offer free tax preparation and filing to eligible taxpayers, through a link from the IRS website, The consortium, the Free File Alliance LLC, must offer free filing to at least 60 percent of individual taxpayers. Each company is allowed to set its own eligibility criteria. Officials declined to say how many firms had joined the consortium so far.

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News source: MSNBC

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