Tax Stats: September 2012

Our monthly collection of statistics from the world of tax

Our fourth tax stat for September features some highlights from Mitt Romney's tax returns, including his recently released 2011 return.

Some highlights of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's 2010 and 2011 tax returns.

The number of Form 1040 and 1040 A returns filed during the past 20 years has increased by 21 percent and 59 percent, respectively. Filings of Forms 1040EZ, the simplest individual return, have decreased by 3 percent. With an average of 442 Tax Code changes per year during the past 10 years, the increasingly complex code makes it more and more difficult for taxpayers to file simple returns.

Source: Beyond415; IRS SOI Tax Stats - Individual Income Tax Returns Publication 1304

This stat needs two charts -- the first, above, to show the relatively sedate growth of about 26 percent in the total number of individual tax returns filed from 1990 to 2010. That pales in comparison to the growth in amended returns filed.

Source: Beyond415; IRS Publication 6186 and Statistics of Income Bulletins

Between 1990 and 2012, the number of amended returns increased 409 percent, compared to a mere 26 percent increase in individual returns filed over the same period. There are many reasons for this increase, including Tax Code complexity, late changes to tax laws, more information statements, and more post-filing compliance activity.

Source: Beyond415; IRS Publication 6186 and Statistics of Incomes

In tax year 2010, the IRS processed about 1.5 million tax returns with potentially fraudulent tax refunds, totaling $5.2 billion. Sixty-four percent of tax identity theft victims are individuals without a filing requirement. Tax ID thieves also target the elderly, students, and even children to obtain Social Security numbers to produce false tax returns. With the substantial cost of fraudulent returns, the IRS will likely scrutinize tax returns more thoroughly -- and take longer to issue legitimate refunds.

Source: Beyond415; TIGTA Report on Undetected Tax Refund Fraud from Identity Theft (July 2012)

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