|by Hadley Malcolm, USA TODAY|
Strained by budget cuts and a declining staff, the
YouTube videos posted in recent months explain how the free file program works and give advice to first-time filers.
The goal: more people finding answers to their tax questions without talking to anyone in person.
"It's a challenging year," Koskinen said. "We are trying to move as many people (online) as we can. Last year, 15% to 18% of our calls were people asking for information about their refunds or their transcripts that they could have gotten online."
Encouraging more people to e-file will also alleviate some of the load for
Although, more online returns and refunds also means more opportunities for cybercriminals, particularly "very sophisticated" organized crime rings, Koskinen said. The
"It's much more under control, but it still concerns us," he said.
This is also the first year the Affordable Care Act factors into tax returns. While most taxpayers simply have to verify that they have health insurance by checking a box, Koskinen said that about 4.5 million of the 150 million returns expected to be filed will involve additional paperwork related to tax credits that offset insurance premiums. Though since "flooding the zone" with information for consumers and tax preparers starting last spring, the
"We haven't noticed any significant problems or confusion," Koskinen said, though he admits it's early in the season. Overall, he remains cautiously optimistic that the