The Montana Department of Revenue began processing tax returns today, January 19, and is urging the public to file online to cut down on paperwork and staffing costs. MT DOR officials say that paper filing is much more expensive to process, resulting in overtime hours and part time staffing. But apparently, most Montanans are already moving to e-filing systems.

"Looking at what we did last year when people were filing their taxes, we had over 474,000 tax returns that were filed electronically, that was out of 563,000 total," said MT DOR Public Information Officer Molly Peterson. If those returns come in electronically, so much work is cut down on."

Peterson says e-filers will also receive their tax refunds sooner, however things are expected to take a little longer this year.

"Even if people file their tax return electronically, it will take them longer than in previous years, to get their refund," Peterson said. "This is because of a nationwide increase in identity theft, that has led to these ID thieves filing fraudulent returns and trying to steal your refund."

The Identity theft threat was highlighted last year when the Montana Department of Revenue discovered 1,700 fraudulent returns and stopped the flow of 1.8 million dollars from going to tax cheats.