The Internal Revenue Service has released statistics indicating a drop-off in both the number of tax returns filed for 2008, and the amount of income, showing the effects of the recession.

The IRS’s Winter 2010 issue of the Statistics of Income Bulletin includes information on both 2007 and 2008 tax returns. Taxpayers filed 142.4 million individual income tax returns for 2008, which was 0.5 percent fewer than the 143.0 million returns filed for 2007. Adjusted gross income also declined between 2007 and 2008, falling by 3.7 percent to $8.2 trillion. This was the first time since 2002 that AGI decreased from the previous year.

Also between 2007 and 2008, taxable income decreased 5.1 percent to $5.6 trillion, total income tax decreased by 6.2 percent to $1 trillion, and total tax liability fell by 6.0 percent to just under $1.1 trillion.

Individual income tax returns reporting a tax liability in 2007 faced an average tax rate of 13.8 percent, the same as in 2006. Taxpayers with AGI of at least $410,096, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, accounted for 22.8 percent of AGI in 2007, an increase of 0.8 percentage points. These taxpayers accounted for 40.4 percent of total income tax reported in 2007, an increase from 39.9 percent in the previous year.

For 2007, taxpayers realized $914 billion in net capital gains less losses, reported on 283.1 million asset transactions with overall sales of $5.3 trillion. Pass-through income represented the largest share of net gains less losses, followed by corporate stock.

The bulletin also contains projections for tax return filing during 2010. The IRS anticipates a grand total of 238 million tax returns during calendar year 2010, or 1 percent fewer than the estimated 2009 filings of 240.4 million returns. The primary cause is the residual effect of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, which in 2009 produced an estimated 14.4 million returns above baseline projections. Grand total return filings are projected to reach 253.6 million by 2016.


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