updated 4/28/2005 2:30:42 PM ET 2005-04-28T18:30:42

For the first time, more than half of all taxpayers filed their returns electronically this year, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

The IRS reported that e-filing accounted for almost 66 million of the returns received as of April 23, up 10.7 percent over the same time last year. Of those filing electronically, 46 million were tax professionals, 3 million filed by phone and nearly 17 million used their home computers.

Filing by home computer was up 17 percent from the same time last year.

The IRS said it expected the e-file number to increase before October, to include taxpayers who have filed for extensions.

As of last Friday, the IRS said it had issued 84.7 million refunds averaging $2,144 apiece. That was up slightly from the average refund of $2,073 last year.

It also noted that visits to the IRS Web site had doubled so far this year to 111 million.

The agency said that it had received 5 million returns from its "Free File" program, which for no cost links taxpayers to Web sites of private companies that produce tax preparation software. That was an increase of 46 percent from the same period last year.

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