IRS crosses 1 billion e-filed tax return mark

The IRS today said it crossed the 1 billion mark for individual tax returns processed via its e-file system.

The Internal Revenue Service's electronic filing program started as a pilot project in 1986 and became available nationally in 1990. Prior to the April 18 deadline, IRS e-file passed another high point as more than 100 million individual tax returns were e-filed during the 2011 filing season, the agency stated.

MORE NEWS: IRS: Top 10 things every taxpayer should know about identity theft

Congress set an 80% goal for the electronic filing of federal tax and information returns in 1998. E-file is now very close to that mark, the IRS said. Currently, more than 79% of taxpayers have used e-file to submit their tax returns so far this year. The IRS also says an e-file return costs 20 times less to process than a paper return.

In 2009, Congress passed another provision requiring tax preparers who file 10 or more tax returns to use e-file. IRS e-file has been steadily growing, but the new law, which the IRS is phasing in, brought a surge of e-filed returns for 2011. For this year, tax preparers who filed 100 or more returns were required to e-file. For 2012, tax preparers who file 11 or more returns will be required to e-file.

The IRS was in the news last week as a report from the Government Accountability Office said that the number of tax-related identity theft incidents is exploding and the IRS has seen reports of the crime rice from 51,702 in 2008 to 248,357 in 2010.

While the IRS has programs in place to fight the identity theft issue, it is also hamstrung in many other areas, the report said.

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