GE Saves a Tree

May 31, 2006

General Electric filed the nation’s largest tax return this year — electronically. The file was 237 megabytes, and if some clerk at the IRS accidentally hits Print, he’ll need 24,000 pieces of paper in the printer to handle the job.

The bottom line is that the IRS handles electronic returns faster and makes fewer errors, so eventually they’ll make every firm file electronically.

According to the IRS news release, this is the first year that these large corporations — those with assets of $50 million and who file at least 250 returns annually — were required to file electronically. The filing deadline for these firms was extended to Sept. 15, 2006, to make the transition possible. Next year smaller firms – those with assets of $10 million or more — will follow suit.

John Samuels, VP and Senior Tax Counsel for GE, said, “The IRS made resources available to us around the clock, seven days a week.” That might mean IRS agents work at GE’s offices year round.

In some cases, the IRS will accept PDF files and even paper documents as part of an “electronic return,” although that would seem to defeat the purpose.

For more on how expensive it is for U.S. corporations to comply with the federal income tax, see a recent Tax Foundation Special Report.


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