IRS Releases 2012 Data Book; Examined 1 Percent of Individual Returns

By Frank Byrt

On March 25, the IRS announced the release of its "2012 Internal Revenue Service Data Book," which provides a snapshot of agency activities. The report includes information about returns filed, taxes collected, enforcement actions, taxpayer assistance, and the IRS budget and workforce, along with other data, from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2012.
 
Highlights include: 
  • The IRS collected almost $2.5 trillion in federal revenue and processed 237 million returns, of which almost 145 million were filed electronically. 
  • Out of the 146 million individual income tax returns filed, almost 81 percent were e-filed.
  • More than 120 million individual income tax return filers received a tax refund, which totaled almost $322.7 billion. 
  • Collections, net of refunds, totaled close to $2.2 trillion.
  • On average, the IRS spent 48 cents to collect $100 in tax revenue during the fiscal year, the lowest cost since 2008.
  • The IRS examined 0.9 percent of all returns, 1 percent of all individual income tax returns filed, and 1.6 percent of corporation income tax returns. 
  • Of the 1.5 million individual tax returns examined, nearly 54,000 resulted in additional refunds. 
  • The IRS provided taxpayer assistance through 372 million visits to IRS.gov and assisted almost 97 million taxpayers through its toll-free telephone help line or at walk-in sites.
  • During FY 2012, the IRS assessed almost $26.9 billion in civil penalties. Slightly more than half of that amount, $13.6 billion, was assessed in civil penalties on individual and estate and trust income tax returns. 
  • The IRS also abated over $11.3 billion in civil penalties during the year, including nearly $5.1 billion in abatements for individual and estate and trust income tax returns.
IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller wrote in the report: "One of the biggest challenges confronting the IRS today is refund fraud caused by identity theft. The IRS has more than doubled the number of staff dedicated to preventing refund fraud and assisting taxpayers victimized by identity theft, with more than 3,000 employees working in this area. As a result of these increased efforts, the IRS during FY 2012 was able to prevent the issuance of more than three million fraudulent refunds worth more than $20 billion. Despite these efforts, much more work remains on identity theft as well as on overall refund fraud."
 
Miller also said the IRS has made significant progress on international enforcement, spe-cifically against the practice of illegally hiding assets and income in offshore accounts. "We have continued our two-pronged approach: offering a voluntary disclosure program for those who want to come in and get right with the government, while at the same time pursuing tax evaders and the promoters and banks assisting them."
 
 

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