The Internal Revenue Service has released its 2013 IRS Data Book, providing a snapshot of activities at the agency in relation to taxpayers for the fiscal year.

The report describes activities conducted by the IRS from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, and includes information about the number of tax returns filed, the amount of taxes collected, enforcement activities, taxpayer assistance levels, the IRS budget and workforce, among others.

During fiscal year 2013, the IRS said it collected nearly $2.9 trillion in federal tax revenue and processed 240 million tax returns, of which 151 million were filed electronically. Out of the 146 million individual income tax returns filed, almost 83 percent were e-filed.

In addition, more than 118 million individual income tax return filers received a tax refund, totaling close to $312.8 billion. On average, the IRS said it spent 41 cents to collect $100 in tax revenue during the fiscal year, matching low-cost results for 2008 and 2001.

The IRS examined just under 1 percent of all tax returns filed and approximately 1 percent of all individual income tax returns during fiscal year 2013. Of the 1.4 million individual tax returns examined, over 39,000 resulted in additional refunds. The IRS provided taxpayer assistance through 456 million visits to and assisted nearly 91 million taxpayers through its toll-free telephone helpline or at walk-in sites.

An electronic version of the 2013 Data Book can be found on the Tax Stats page of
Printed copies will be available in mid-April 2014 from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

The union representing IRS employees pointed out that the data indicates the loss of thousands of IRS workers in only one year’s time, intensifying the problems taxpayers are having in getting assistance this filing season.

The annual publication showed that overall IRS staffing fell by nearly 6,000 employees compared to fiscal 2012, including a reduction of more than 3,300 employees in taxpayer assistance occupations.

“We are seeing the results of these reductions in staffing, particularly in customer service, all across the country this filing season,” said National Treasury Employees Union president Colleen M. Kelley in a statement. “Both taxpayers and employees are frustrated by the lengthy lines at Taxpayer Assistance Centers and the long telephone hold times for those who call the IRS with a question.”

Going back to 2010, the IRS budget has been cut by nearly $1 billion, with the loss of some 10,000 employees, the NTEU pointed out. Not only that, Kelley said, the IRS has been forced to reduce the range of services available to taxpayers this filing season, including at walk-in sites where they get help preparing their returns.

“Taxpayers are shocked, frustrated and angry to find out that vital service is no longer available,” she added.

The White House budget proposal for fiscal 2015 would provide approximately a 7.5 percent increase for taxpayer services over the current funding level. It would include an 8.1 percent increase for account filing and services, which include customer service, processing tax returns, issuing tax refunds and maintaining taxpayer accounts.

“Enacting the administration’s budget would be a good first step,” Kelley said. “It is critically important to rebuild IRS staffing so help is available for taxpayers who are trying to navigate the complex tax code and be compliant.”  

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