Archive for Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Electronic filing speeds refunds

February 7, 2001

By Jackie Hosey

As the April 15 tax deadline approaches, thousands of Kansas residents will head to their computers instead of their mailboxes.

Electronic income tax filing is at an all-time high according to the Internal Revenue Service and the Kansas Department of Revenue.

Scott Holeman, public information officer at the state revenue department, expects more than 400,000 Kansas residents to file taxes over the Internet this year.

The number of electronic filings has increased steadily during the past few years, Holeman said. Last year, 1.5 million returns were filed in Kansas, and about 350,000 came in electronically, he said.

The Internal Revenue Service also has seen the number of electronic filings increase steadily during the past few years. Last year, more than 25 million people filed electronically, an increase of 16 percent from 1999.

According to a report from the IRS, electronic filing is faster and more accurate than filing by mail. The report said electronic returns are "virtually error proof," with an error rate of less than 1 percent. Paper returns historically have had an error rate that ranges between 20 percent and 21 percent.

According to John O'Berg of Jim O'Berg CPA in Eudora, the real appeal of electronic filing is expediency.

"If you want a refund back right away, then it's the way to go," he said.

O'Berg said his office files electronic returns for its clients every Thursday at 9 a.m.

"Then, if they use direct deposit, the refund is deposited in their bank account the Friday of the following week," he said.

O'Berg said he's not sure he agrees with the IRS contention that filing electronically is easier than filing on paper.

"It's really not easier for us," he said. "Actually it makes it a little harder because you have an additional step, downloading the files. Then you have to enter all of the information on the client's bank account."

Taxpayers who owe money also can file electronically, but they must send payments by April 16 or include a bank routing number on their return so funds can be withdrawn from their bank account.

Because April 15 falls on a Sunday this year, the filing deadline has been extended one day.

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