Slideshow Tax Season by the Numbers

  • July 22 2015, 11:30am EDT
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The score after April 15

The National Taxpayer Advocate recently released a slew of tax season data on everything from e-filing to hold times on service help lines to the impact of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s a selection of the headline figures.

Total individual returns

The number of individual income tax returns the IRS received and processed by the end of the week around April 15 was up just a hair in 2015 – total receipts were up .08 percent, and total returns processed just 0.4%.

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Still rising

The biggest growth in e-filing was among the self-prepared; 5.9% more self-prepared returns were e-filed in 2015 versus 2014, while e-filing among professional-prepared returns was only 0.1%.

Interesting changes from last year

Both the number of refunds and the total amount paid out were down from the previous season (-3.2% and -2.3%, respectively), but the average refund was 0.9% bigger.

New regs and rules left taxpayers with many questions

Budget cuts led the IRS to warn taxpayers not to call, which may explain why visits to the IRS’s Web site were up 12.4% -- but the service still saw a jump of more than a third in phone calls.

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Priorities on display

The IRS had warned in advance that it expected to not be able to answer many calls, but at least it set some priorities – its ID theft unit, for instance, answered a much higher percentage of calls than the Refund Hotline.

The IRS on the phone

The IRS didn’t play favorites – they may have answered a higher percentage of practitioners’ calls than of taxpayers’, but only after they waited an average of 22 minutes longer.

How the Affordable Care Act showed up in returns

Of the 94 million tax returns claiming coverage, approximately 6.6 million reported an Individual Shared Responsibility Payment (the “fee” for not having health coverage), over two thirds of which (4.3 million) were prepared by paid or volunteer preparers. The Taxpayer Advocate reported that over 300,000 of those reporting an ISRP didn’t actually owe one at all.

Separately, 10.7 million returns filed a Form 8965 to claim coverage exemption; over half of those returns were prepared by a professional or a volunteer.