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More Marylanders file electronically

March 09, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

More Marylanders file electronically

More Maryland residents are filing both their federal and state income tax returns electronically, tax officials said during a stop in Hagerstown.

They're also opting in greater numbers to have their federal refund checks deposited directly into their checking or savings accounts, officials said last week.

More than 285,000 of the more than 788,000 federal returns filed in Maryland and the District of Columbia so far this year were filed electronically, said Dominic LaPonzina, chief of communications for the Internal Revenue Service's Delaware-Maryland District.

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More than 72,000 of them were filed with a touch-tone telephone, an option given to a segment of taxpayers who don't itemize deductions, LaPonzina said. The rest filed through a professional preparer or did it themselves, using a personal computer program.

More Maryland taxpayers have filed their state returns electronically so far this year than the total 158,124 filed electronically last year, according to Assistant State Comptroller Marvin A. Bond.

The state is promoting the option not only for people expecting refunds who want to speed them up, but also for people who expect to pay, Bond said.

Though they file early, their payment isn't due until April 15, he said. And they can ensure that they won't be hit with higher-than-expected taxes, penalties and interest.

As of Thursday, 17,465 Washington County taxpayers had filed their state returns, Bond said. More than 5,140 of them had filed electronically.

For the three out of four taxpayers who are due a federal tax refund, filing electronically can cut the wait in half, from about five weeks to two-and-a-half, LaPonzina said.

They can shave another four or five days off the wait by requesting direct deposit, LaPonzina said.

So far, about 5.4 million taxpayers nationwide - 8 percent more than last year - have opted for direct deposit, he said.

"They're seeing it's easier. They're seeing it's safe. They're seeing it's fast," LaPonzina said.

For the first time, Maryland taxpayers have the option of having their refunds directly deposited if they file electronically, Bond said.

So far, 22,000 taxpayers have taken advantage of the new option, he said.

More than 205,000 federal tax refunds, totaling nearly $396 million, have already been issued in the region, LaPonzina said.

The average refund is about $1,400 this year, up about $100 from last year, he said.

The average state tax refund this year is $667 for direct deposit, $464 for paper returns, Bond said.

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