Tax Season by the Numbers: What You Need to Know
Life + Money

Tax Season by the Numbers: What You Need to Know

With the deadline for filing your taxes looming (remember to file by midnight on April 15), a treacherous tax season is finally coming to an end.

Several records were set this year, unfortunately in the worse ways possible. Budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service coupled with an increase in tax scams and identity theft made it more difficult for taxpayers to get assistance.

Related: 3 Things You Must Know About Filing a Tax Extension

Nevertheless, there was still some upside for taxpayers, particularly on the audit front: Audits are becoming less frequent as the IRS’s staff remains tight.

Here’s a look at this year’s tax season by the numbers, based on data compiled by WalletHub

14 percent: IRS employee downsizing since 2010

10 percent: IRS budget cuts since 2010

$2 billion: Estimated revenue loss this year for the IRS, due to reduced staffing

28 minutes: Average wait time for taxpayers when they call the IRS, up from 11 minutes in 2010 

7 weeks: Estimated time frame for processing refunds from paper returns, up from 4 to 6 weeks normally

700 percent: Increase in identity theft cases since 2010

60 percent: Share of taxpayer calls to the IRS that were never answered (through mid-February)

Related: The Best and Worst States for Paying Taxes in 2015

16 hours: Average time taxpayers spent preparing for, completing and filing their 1040 tax form, down 47 percent since 2006

$260: Average cost to taxpayers for completing and filing their 1040, down 3.3 percent from 2006 (this includes tax software and/or professional tax services)

46,000: Fewer audit closures (both individual and business) in 2015 due to the IRS’s reduced enforcement staffing compared to last year 

In response to the understaffing, the IRS has been pushing taxpayers to use Where is my Refund on the IRS website. Visits to the website have actually increased 12 percent to 247 million, as of March 27.

WalletHub compiled this data based on its own projections as well as information from the IRS, the Congressional Budget Office, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Connecticut Society of CPAs and the Tax Foundation. 

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