Statistics Feed

Today is a somber anniversary. But it also coincides this year with a much happier celebration, Grandparents Day. So while we remember those who died on Sept. 11, 2011, today's tax focus is on the country's older filers. There are, of course, many young grandfathers and grandmothers. But the more senior Maw-maws and Grampas get today's attention. The reason? Readily available Internal Revenue Service data breaks out taxable retirement income. Specifically, for the 2008 tax year, the latest complete tax filing info, slightly more than 15 million taxpayers reported taxable Social Security income. And that precise number of filers is... Read more →

Admit it. You like to compare yourself to your colleagues, neighbors, even family members. It's natural to want to know just how we stack up. Taxes depend on numerical data, making them ripe for ranking analysis. And the Internal Revenue Service even helps us by breaking out the information it collects. The agency's Statistics of Income Division recently released data for every U.S. ZIP code for which 250 or more returns were filed between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009. For the most part, these Form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ tax returns were for the 2008 tax year, although... Read more →

What in the world am I doing wrong? It seems like everyone -- low-to-middle income filers, big companies and now folks earning more than $200,000 a year -- is able to avoid paying taxes. OK, so not every person is having a happy April 15. It just seems like it to those of us who tend to owe, even when we plan it that way. But data included in the latest IRS Statistics of Income (SOI) report show that higher-income folks (the agency's statutory definition is that $200,000 adjusted gross income threshold) are good at taking advantage of the tax... Read more →

Uncle Sam gives moms an early Mother's Day gift every year in the form of the child tax credit. For the 2010 fiscal year, Internal Revenue Service data shows that almost 15 percent of the individual tax refunds issued were attributable in part to the refundable portion of this popular tax break. The exact number, and this week's By the Numbers figure, is: The basic child tax credit is not hard to claim. Just list your qualifying children on your tax return and as long as your income doesn't exceed $75,000 (or $110,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return;... Read more →

For the last decade, the Internal Revenue Service has offered most taxpayers access to Free File, a way to prepare tax returns online and e-file them without charge. The services is a public-private partnership with around 20 software companies participating each year. For the 2011 filing season, taxpayers who in 2010 had adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less, regardless of filing status, can use Free File. It will be available not just through the upcoming April 18 filing deadline, but also through the Oct. 17 extended filing due date. The IRS says that the current income threshold (it's adjusted... Read more →

Today is the 119th birthday of the ice cream sundae. On April 3, 1892, in Ithaca, N.Y., John M. Scott and Chester Platt invented the first ice cream sundae. The two men originally called their creation the Cherry Sunday and tried to trademark the term "Sunday." That never happened and later the confection came to be known as the sundae. However you spell it, we love it! The traditional recipe calls for a dollop of chocolate syrup in the bottom of the dish (stemmed makes it so fancy!), followed by two dips (at least!) of vanilla ice cream, more chocolate... Read more →

My mother recently moved to the Austin area. So for the last couple of months, I've been indulging my inner interior designer, helping her furnish her new place. Since Mom's a frugal sort, we've been shopping consignment and thrift shops. As in any retail establishment, there are bargains on really nice furnishings and there's stuff the shop owners can't give away. Sorting through all these second-hand items got me thinking about the folks who used to own the property. And that prompted this week's By the Numbers figure: That's the number of 2008 tax returns (the latest tax year for... Read more →

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. This year will be the the 32nd Feb. 14th that the hubby and I have spent together, 30 of those as a married couple. So I got to wondering, especially in light of recent surveys that say marriage is no longer the relationship goal of many folks, how many taxpayers share our status. The latest complete numbers available from the IRS are for tax year 2008. That year, more than 56 million returns were submitted by married couples. The precise number, and the By the Numbers figure this week, is: That number is almost 40 percent... Read more →

Are you ready for some football? Or I guess the more appropriate question today should be have you placed your Super Bowl bets yet? The Super Bowl is the most gambled-on sporting event in the United States. Super Bowl XLV features the closest betting line -- it's been holding in the 2.5 to 3 point range -- in 29 years, according to U.S. sports fans can only place bets on the big NFL game and other athletic events legally in Nevada. That geographic limitation is why millions of gamblers for the last couple of weeks have been making illegal... Read more →

Last year, the Internal Revenue Service processed more than 142 million tax returns. Almost 70 percent of those Form 1040s (and 1040As and 1040EZs, plus attached forms and schedules) arrived at IRS centers electronically. The precise number of e-filers, according to the agency's final 2010 filing season data, was 98,740,000. That was a 3.4 percent increase over the previous year's count of taxpayers who electronically delivered their returns. The biggest jump, percentage wise, was in the number of folks who e-filed their taxes themselves. Almost 35 million of us did so, a 8.2 percent increase. But don't worry, tax pros.... Read more →

More than three grand is a nice chunk of change. That's the average refund check -- $3,303 to be precise -- that the Internal Revenue Service issued last year. Taxpayers who opted in 2010 for direct deposit of their refund money got even more. The average refund amount electronically sent to taxpayer accounts last year was $3,191. January is prime filing month for folks expecting refunds. If this forced savings account with the U.S. Treasury as your banker is the only way you can keep from spending every last cent of your paycheck, then that's better than nothing. And with... Read more →

Welcome to By the Numbers, a new feature here on the ol' blog. Each Sunday a figure -- a percentage, dollar amount, raw number and the like -- with a tax connection will the highlighted. I've planned numerical posts through this filing season, but if there's interest, by me as well as all y'all!, I'll keep it up year-round. As with the tax tips, I'll collect these numerical postings on a special page so you can peruse them at your tax wonky leisure. So enough text already. To the digits. The inaugural By the Numbers number is 2 percent. No,... Read more →

Analysis of the latest IRS data is not going to help sell a tax-the-rich approach to funding healthcare reform. Thanks to the folks at the Tax Foundation for crunching the numbers that reveal the top 1 percent of taxpayers (in 2007, the latest complete info available) paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. "This is the highest percentage in modern history," notes Scott Hodge in the nonpartisan educational group's Tax Policy Blog. "By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax... Read more →

What to do with your tax refund

As April was winding down, the number of e-filers was going up. More than 90 million tax returns were filed electronically through April 24, according to the IRS. As has been the trend over the last few years, more individuals in 2009 opted to electronically file their returns on their own. In fact, that segment of filers hit a record this year. For the first time, says the tax agency, more than 30 million individual income tax returns were filed from home computers. That's a 19 percent jump over last year. As the math indicates, that means around 60 million... Read more →

What a difference a rebate makes

By early July, the IRS had received more than 145 million tax returns. At that same point last year, 131 million folks had filed. That filing increase of almost 12 percent is no doubt almost totally attributable to the economic stimulus payments. The only way to get a rebate this year is to file a 2007 return. And the numbers will continue to climb as the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline nears. By the numbers: Unfortunately, the IRS wasn't able to provide dollar amounts in connection with returns processed by the week ending July 5 (Excel format) due to "technical... Read more →

Withholding lessons from filing stats

For the last few years, electronic tax filing has set records as more of us choose this method to get our returns to the IRS. It looks like the 2008 filing season will continue that trend. Through Feb. 22, more than 38 million returns have been e-filed. That's a 5 percent increase over the same period last year. One of the biggest areas of growth, according to the IRS, is returns submitted electronically from home computers. More than 12.3 million returns were filed directly by taxpayers from home, an increase of almost 14 percent from the same time last year.... Read more →

2007 tax filing season
sets records ... again

Ho-hum. Same old, same old. Another tax-filing season, another IRS statistical record falls. Nearly 80 million of us filed out taxes electronically this year, breaking the record set last year. As the table below shows, that's pretty much been the pattern since the IRS began accepting and then encouraging taxpayers to e-file. The IRS reports (IR-2007-185) that the exact number of e-filers for the 2007 tax season, which officially closed out on the Oct. 15 extension deadline, was 79.98 million. That's about 9 percent more than filed electronically the previous year. This year, more than 22.6 million returns were e-filed... Read more →

2007 filing season is another record breaker

The 2007 tax-filing season wound down a little over a month ago, once again setting records. This year, e-filing continued to climb, hitting a new high of 76 million electronically submitted returns. While e-filing has always been popular among early filers who typically are expecting refunds and like the way the cyber system gets them their money faster, this year’s tax season saw another e-surge in April. The number of electronically-filed returns sent by last-minute filers, a group that until this year has tended to send in paper 1040s, jumped 35 percent during the final weeks of this filing season... Read more →

PCs are paying off

Apparently after you finish reading the ol' blog, many of you head right to your tax software program and file your returns. The latest weekly roundup of numbers from the IRS shows that taxpayers are submitting returns electronically from home computers at a record pace. That group is up almost 7 percent from the same period last year, specifically the weeks ending Feb. 24/23, 2006/07. These do-it-myselfers account for 30 percent of the season's e-filed returns so far. Overall, electronic filing this tax season has increased by nearly 4 percent over last year's numbers, 78 percent in 2007 vs. 76... Read more →

A $300 million gift to Uncle Sam

Some taxpayers apparently believe it's better to give than to receive. How else to explain the more than 10 million filers who didn't claim the federal telephone excise tax refund. It doesn't take a math degree to figure out the cost to filers and for the U.S. Treasury. Multiply those 10 million returns by $30, the smallest available standard phone refund amount, and you get $300 million. And that's a conservative estimate. It's a safe bet that some of those returns that ignored the phone refund were eligible for the other allowable amounts -- $40, $50 or $60 -- that... Read more →