The Internal Revenue Service has pulled the wraps off its newest Data Book, and it has a different look and some new data.
The 2019 edition provides the usual set of statistical tables that summarize tax filings, revenue collections, taxpayer services, enforcement activities and agency operations, but its new format is designed to reflect the way the agency does business more accurately.
"The IRS is changing from many perspectives, and the Data Book reflects that change as well," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig wrote in the Data Book's introduction. "Along those lines, we've redesigned the Data Book for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 by reorganizing key material and adding new information. This is part of an effort to help the Data Book provide a more complete view of our extensive service and compliance operations in a clear format that is easier to use for taxpayers and the tax community.”
The IRS wants to put enforcement in perspective.
Rettig writes that most Americans see the IRS’ enforcement activities and compliance efforts, they think of audits, but that’s only a part of the puzzle. A new section in the data book called “Compliance Presence” outlines the various roles enforcement can have. Rettig says the agency takes more than 5 million compliance steps each year — beyond traditional examinations — to ensure fairness in the tax system.
Some of those compliance steps include math error notices; matching tax return entries to information returns filed by employers, banks and other third parties; and casework by IRS Criminal Investigation.
Table 17a, one of the new features in the 2019 Data Book, takes a long-term view that audits can take several years to complete. The table shows both audits and audits in progress, tied to tax returns for tax years 2010 through 2018. The table also has data based on the taxpayer’s total positive income, excluding losses — the same measure the IRS uses to assign exam codes.
What other new information is in the Data Book?
For the first time, this newest Data Book also shows the number of installment payment agreements with the IRS set up by individual taxpayers and by businesses. Another addition is the number of Identity Protection Personal Identification Numbers (IP PINs) issued for filing years 2011-2020 to certain victims of tax-related identity theft.
The new Data Book shows that during FY 2019, the IRS:
- Processed more than 253 million individual and business tax returns and forms, with nearly 73% of them filed electronically. Of that total, about 154 million were individual income tax returns, with about 89% of them being e-filed.
- Collected more than $3.5 trillion in Federal taxes paid by individuals and businesses, with the individual income tax accounting for about 56% of the total.
- Issued nearly 121.9 million refunds to individuals and businesses totaling more than $452 billion. The bulk of them — more than 119.8 million totaling over $270 billion — went to individual income tax filers. Of that total, nearly 17.3 million included a refundable Child Tax Credit and nearly 24.6 million included a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Attracted nearly 651 million visits to IRS.gov, its popular website.
- Set up more than 2.8 million new payment or installment agreements, with nearly 1.1 million of them established online at IRS.gov.
- Reinvigorated its non-filer compliance initiative by closing over 364,000 cases under the Automated Substitute for Return Program, resulting in nearly $6.6 billion in additional assessments.
- Completed nearly 2,800 criminal investigations.
Commissioner Rettig says the new Data Book complements the new IRS Progress Update, a new annual report that was unveiled earlier this year.
"In presenting this information, our goal is to help everyone understand the scope of our work for the nation," Rettig added. "The IRS touches more Americans than any other entity, public or private. Our employees take pride in providing top-quality service to taxpayers — helping them meet their tax obligations through clear guidance while ensuring their rights are protected. When citizens can perform their civic duty each year by preparing and filing their taxes and paying only what they should, they help fund critical aspects of the United States, ranging from schools and roads to Social Security payments and the nation's military.”