SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE
Public Affairs Office
Contact: Danny Brazell
Phone: (803) 898-5464
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2004
South Carolina taxpayers choosing to file electronically
The opportunity to get a quick tax refund in yet another tough economic year could be one reason the number of South Carolina taxpayers filing their returns by computer has increased by more than 18,000 over the number of people filing electronically at this same time last year. That group represents a 2.5% increase over last year in the number of people filing electronically.
With less than a month to go in the tax filing season, 711,653 taxpayers have filed their South Carolina return electronically, which is about two-thirds of the total number of returns received by the Department of Revenue through March 15. The Department has received a total of 966,410 tax returns so far this year, a little less than half of the 2.2 million returns it expects to receive in all.
The largest increase of electronically filed returns has been with those using the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website filing program called SCnetFile. To date, the number of taxpayers filing their state return from their home computers using the SCnetFile program has doubled that of last year, from 10,974 in 2003 to 22,703 this year. Department of Revenue officials speculate some of the increase may be because taxpayers who formerly used the
Department’s “Telefile” telephone filing program have switched to SCnetFile. The Department discontinued the Telefile program this year because of the declining number of users and the expense of maintaining the program.
Use of the other electronic filing options also has increased this year. The number of taxpayers using available commercial tax software programs to file is up more than 19,000, and the number of taxpayers using professional tax preparers to file electronically is up 22,500 this year.
The percentage of taxpayers filing electronically will drop as the tax filing season nears the deadline and the Department receives more paper returns. While South Carolina has been a national leader for many years in the percentage of taxpayers filing electronically, most South Carolina taxpayers –about 53% last year-- still file the paper return. Traditionally, 40% of taxpayers filing returns do so in the last two weeks of the filing season.
But those filing electronically can receive a refund a full six weeks sooner than someone filing a paper return, which is one of the reasons the Department encourages taxpayers to file electronically. It typically takes 10 -14 days to receive a refund when filing by computer, but can take up to eight weeks for a paper return.
Another reason the agency is encouraging electronic filing is because the Department of Revenue can save the state money by adding fewer seasonal employees each year to help with tax return processing. The agency now hires about 100 fewer temporary employees than it did five years ago.
To encourage taxpayers to file electronically, the Department has again extended the tax deadline for electronic filers to May 3. That deadline applies only to electronic filers and to South Carolina returns. The federal deadline is April 15.
In 1991, South Carolina became the first state in the nation to offer its
taxpayers federal and state computer filing and for more than 10 years led the nation in the percentage of taxpayers filing by computer.
As of March 15, 2004
Total tax returns processed
Paper returns processed
Electronic returns processed
% of total filed electronically
Total refunds issued
*Updates on the Department of Revenue’s income tax processing numbers can be found at www.sctax.org. Taxpayers also can check on their refund status at the website.