March 02, 2000
Millions Use Pins, Not Pens, to Sign their Tax Returns
WASHINGTON - More than 3.3 million taxpayers have used PINs (Personal
Identification Numbers) -- instead of pens -- to sign their computer-filed tax returns
this year. They are clients of the 18,000 tax preparers participating in an Internal
Revenue Service pilot program to substitute digital signatures for the paper documents
usually associated with tax filings. The total as of Feb. 25 was already more than six
times the number for all of last year.
We're pleased with the enthusiastic response these numbers reflect, said
Robert Barr, IRS Assistant Commissioner for Electronic Tax Administration. Preparers
may have been cautious about trying this new e-filing feature last year, but we think
they now appreciate the benefits for their clients and themselves.
The IRS chose more than twice as many preparers for this year's program as it
did when the pilot started in 1999. Participants give their clients the option of creating
their own five-digit identification numbers to use as signatures when e-filing, eliminating
the need to mail any form to the IRS. The preparer keeps a record of the number
chosen in the client's file, in case the IRS needs to verify it. Unlike most PINs, this
number is for a one-time use, so a taxpayer doesn't have to remember it next year.
This tax preparer pilot is one of two the IRS is running to counter a potential
barrier to e-filing: the need to mail a paper form after transmitting the electronic data.
The other pilot allows taxpayers who do their own returns by computer to use an E-file
Customer Number (ECN) in place of a signature document.
In December, the IRS mailed more than 11.5 million postcards with ECNs to
people who did their taxes on a computer last year, whether they filed a paper or
electronic return. By e-filing with the ECN, these taxpayers won't have to mail anything
to the IRS. More than 625,000 have already used ECNs, nearly matching the 660,000
total for all of 1999.
As of Feb. 25, the IRS had received 21.2 million e-filed returns, 53.6 percent of
all returns received. The IRS has processed $52.1 billion in refunds for 28.4 million
taxpayers. At $1,834, the average refund is 6.1 percent higher than this time last year.
2000 FILING SEASON STATISTICS
Cumulative through the week ending 2/26/99 and 2/25/00
1999 2000 % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns
Total Receipts 39,058,000 39,457,000 1.0
Total Processed 27,360,000 30,767,000 12.5
TOTAL 18,487,000 21,157,000 14.4
TeleFile (phone) 3,869,000 3,471,000 -10.3
Computer 14,618,000 17,686,000 21.0
Tax Professionals 13,509,000 15,512,000 14.8
Self-prepared 1,109,000 2,174,000 96.0
Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:
Number 25,171,000 28,397,000 12.8
Amount of principal $43.513 b. $52.094 b. 19.7
Average refund $1729 $1834 6.1
Direct Deposit Refunds:
Number 13,497,000 16,403,000 21.5
Amount $29.290 b. $36.674 b. 25.2
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