Electronically filed tax returns are on track with last year and overall refunds are running nearly 10 percent higher so far in 2010, according to statistics issued Tuesday by the Internal Revenue Service.

The statistics, covering the period through March 12, show that while the overall number of tax returns filed this year is down slightly, the percentage of returns using e-file remains strong. More than 82 percent of the 69 million returns received this year have come in via e-file. Home usage of e-file is up nearly 7 percent compared with this time last year.

Additionally, the average federal refund totaled $3,036, an increase of $266 compared with the same period a year ago.

The refund increase follows a number of federal tax incentives enacted last year as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, such as the homebuyer credit and the American Opportunity credit.

“There are several new credits and deductions this year, so we encourage taxpayers to see if they qualify when they fill out their tax return,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “To get their refunds quicker, the IRS reminds taxpayers that the fastest, easiest way is to e-file and use direct deposit.”

Taxpayers can check their eligibility for these credits and deductions on the IRS Web site at IRS.gov/recovery. This special section also contains instructions on how to claim the available tax incentives and provides answers to frequently asked questions.

Detailed information is also available on the Making Work Pay credit, economic recovery payments, the Earned Income Tax Credit, sales and excise tax deductions for new car purchases, and energy incentives for homeowners.

Details on other special tax incentives, some specifically for businesses, are also available on IRS.gov.


Individual Income Tax Returns

Total Receipts — 2009: 70,807,000; 2010: 68,743,000
Total Processed — 2009: 67,595,000 2010: 64,284,000

E-filing Receipts

Total — 2009: 56,665,000; 2010: 56,802,000
Tax Professionals — 2009: 36,751,000; 2010: 35,509,000
Self-prepared — 2009: 19,914,000; 2010: 21,293,000

Web Usage

Visits to IRS.gov — 2009: 126,091,068; 2010: 121,091,068

Total Refunds

Number — 2009: 61,042,000; 2010: 57,779,000
Amount — 2009: $169.1 billion; 2010: $175.4 billion
Average refund — 2009: $2,770; 2010: $3,036

Direct Deposit Refunds

Number — 2009: 48,643,000; 2010: 47,893,000
Amount — 2009: $146.4 billion; 2010: $154.8 billion
Average refund — 2009: $3,010; 2010: $3,232

— Raphael Tulino is an IRS media relations coordinator for Southern California and Nevada.