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E-filing still going up; the IRS likes it that way

It's been more than half a year since we last devoted a post to e-filing.

In our May 22 post, we noted that though e-filing continues to go up, there is a potential downside for taxpayers. For one thing, receiving returns that were filed electronically allows the IRS to create a ready-made database to be used for possible tax audits.

In today's post, we will update you on some of the other issues that relate to e-filing.

Let's begin by acknowledging the record-setting number of returns that were e-filed this year. Today the IRS announced that this number exceeded 122 million in 2013.

More than half of these e-filed returns were submitted by professional tax preparers. The total number of returns submitted by tax professionals was more than 77 million.

It is also worth noting that the percentage of tax returns that were prepared using some form of tax preparation software was very high. Indeed, it was more than 90 percent. Such software is used both by professional preparers and people who prepare their own tax returns.

Interestingly, in the announcement that highlighted e-filing, the IRS also touted the number of people who have visited its website, The agency points out that visits to the site were up nearly 24 percent this year, to more than 430 million.

This figure, however, should be put in context in two respects.

For one thing, in a country with a population of well over 300 million, 430 million is really not that large of a number. In addition, increased visits to the website may indicate a lack of in-person or telephone-provided customer service.

Source:, "More than 122 million Returns e-Filed in 2013," Dec. 4, 2013

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