WASHINGTON-More than 2.4 million taxpayers filed their taxes online as of April 9 through the Free File Web site (visit www.egov.gov), according to data released by the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service. More and more credit unions in recent years have formed partnerships to assist their members in filing electronically. Under President George W. Bush's initiative from February 2002, Treasury, the IRS and the Office of Management and Budget created a Web site featuring private sector partners, including several tax software companies, to allow most taxpayers to prepare and file their taxes online at no cost. Another advantage to the system is that American's that e-file will get their refunds back in half the time, a statement from Treasury said. The IRS and Treasury plan to review feedback from the program after the tax season and consider modifications. According to Treasury, Congress has set a goal of 80% of taxpayers filing electronically, which saves taxpayers and the government time and money, by 2007. Of course, all federal credit unions and many state chartered credit unions do not pay income taxes. Electronic filing could help save taxpayers enough of the green to satisfy Congressman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), who reported on April 15 that 100% of the income the average American earned from January 1st to April 18th 2002 (108 days) went toward taxes and that Americans pay more in taxes than they do on food, clothing and shelter combined. Other interesting bits of data Garrett offered: * As of May 2000, the tax code contained 1,395,028 words – nearly 319 times the number of words in the Constitution. * There are approximately 700 sections of the tax code that apply to individuals and over 1,500 provisions applicable to businesses. * The IRS produces 649 separate forms, schedules, and instructions with approximately 16,100 lines. Publications providing guidance to taxpayers alone total about 13,400 pages. * Ten years ago, the IRS said it took the average person 9.5 hours to complete the 1040. Today's average is 13 hours or enough time for at least four baseball games. * On average, each taxpayer pays $1,839 per household for compliance costs, equaling six days of work per year just to pay for the cost of preparing his or her taxes. * As of December 2002, the IRS employed 98,597 people-more than 3.5 times as many people employed by the FBI. * The IRS spent $9 billion in 2002 – that's more than the budgets for the FBI, the DEA, and INS Border Enforcement combined. "Every year on April 15, the national tax debate comes to kitchen tables across America," Garrett stated. "It's a debate not just about tax cuts, tax credits and tax deductions, but about who pays, how much and why. The conversation has been a headache to taxpayers for years and it returns today as millions of Americans head to the post office to file their taxes." In addition, the congressman pointed out that throughout the year, Americans pay federal taxes on airline tickets, phone service, and gasoline. Conversely, Treasury and the IRS said they are cracking down on tax shelters and those who promote them and take advantage of them. Among the key steps taken: * The IRS is actively pursuing promoters of abusive transactions. * The IRS and Treasury Department are publishing legal guidance on when a transaction is determined to be abusive. * The IRS is auditing taxpayers to determine if they are invested in abusive transactions. [email protected]

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