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More businesses are electronically filing tax returns

Back in 1998, one of the provisions of Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act called for the tax agency to get 80 percent of its returns electronically by 2007.

Targets are all well and good, but as anyone who has dealt with Uncle Sam knows, he tends to run on its own, usually slower, timetable. That's what happened with the mandated suggested e-filing target.

Computer taxes cropped

The IRS did get 80 percent of individual filers -- actually 81 percent -- to file electronically, but not until 2012.

But since then, the number of e-filing individuals has grown steadily.

Through mid-May this year, slightly more than 86 percent of individual taxpayers e-filed their 1040s. The almost 118 million filers who hit "enter" this filing season was an increase of around 3 percent over the 2013 filing season's e-filers.

The private-public Free File partnership has helped. And the availability of other online and packaged tax preparation software offerings has meant more folks are filing their own taxes electronically than ever before.

Slow, but gaining: Business return filers, however, have been a bit slower to adopt electronic filing of their returns, despite the IRS requiring some companies to complete many other tax tasks via computer.

But now, things are looking up electronically for the IRS when it comes to business filings.

Business e-file increased nearly 10 percent this year. That's a continuation of the e-filing growth in this segment; electronically filed corporate and partnership returns already had doubled in just four years.

That 10 percent growth in business e-filing earns this week's By the Numbers honors.

Tax Returns e-filed by Corporations and Partnerships

 Category of e-filers

Sept. 22, 2013

Sept. 21, 2014

% Change 

 Large Corporation Tax Returns




 Other Corporate Returns




 Total Corporate Returns




 Large Partnership Tax Returns




 Other Partnership Returns




 Total Partnerships




 Total Returns




The increase comes from more than 7 million corporations and partnerships that had e-filed as of Sept. 21.

Bigger businesses required to e-file: Large and mid-size corporations, generally those with $10 million or more in total assets, are required to electronically file their Forms 1120 or 1120S. The same is required of partnerships with more than 100 partners.

These businesses, says the IRS, are where it is seeing e-filing growth.

This year, according to the IRS, 92,494 large corporations e-filed their returns, an increase of 8.6 percent compared to the same time last year. The greatest rate of growth in e-filing among these businesses is by large partnerships.

Another 122,879 large partnerships e-filed this year, up more than 14 percent from the same time the year before.

Slowly, but surely all taxpayers are moving into the 21st century when it comes to filing.

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