Tax Stats: February 2013

Our monthly collection of statistics from the world of tax, from Beyond415

February's too short, so we've added two bonus stats -- one on penalty assessments vs. penalty abatements, and one on taxpayers' electronic engagement with the IRS.

The number of penalties assessed by the IRS has risen overall in the past 17 years, but the number of abatements has not increased proportionately. In fact, from 2009 to 2011, the number of penalty abatements actually declined 4 percent.

Source: Beyond415; IRS 2012 Enforcement Statistics, 1995-2011

For taxpayers, calling the IRS and filing paper returns are being replaced with electronic interaction. In 2012, the e-file rate for individuals surpassed 80 percent, and there were more than 372 million visits to

Source: Beyond415; IRS 2012 Enforcement Results

At the end of 2011, the IRS was attempting to collect more than $116 billion in unpaid taxes on almost 11 million taxpayer accounts. Despite a 231 percent increase in active IRS collection accounts from 1996 to 2011, the IRS reduced the number of its local collectors, revenue officers, by 25 percent. An effect of the decrease in personnel was a $660 million decrease in the amount of unpaid taxes collected from 2011 to 2012.

Source: Beyond415; IRS 2012 Enforcement Results; IRS Statistics of Income

Since 2002, the IRS has increased its enforcement revenue by 47 percent, despite a modest 4 percent increase in its key enforcement personnel: revenue agents (field auditors), revenue officers (collectors) and special agents (criminal investigators). The IRS has accomplished this using notices and automated compliance techniques that do not require expensive personnel resources.

Source: Beyond415; IRS 2012 Enforcement Results

In 2011, the IRS received more than 1.82 billion taxpayer information statements. The IRS knows that information statements are the key to compliance when it comes to properly reporting income on tax returns. Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions (mainly sales of stock), leads the amount filed, with more than 662 million received in 2011. The IRS projects that in 2015, it will receive 2 billion information statements.

Source: Beyond415; IRS Publication 6961 (2012)

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