The Internal Revenue Service released its 2015 IRS Data Book on Wednesday, providing a snapshot of agency activities for the fiscal year.
The 2015 Data Book discusses IRS activities from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015 and includes information about returns filed, taxes collected, enforcement, taxpayer assistance and the IRS budget and workforce, among others. Charts depict trends, such as the decline in the number of audits and the reduction in telephone and in-person tax assistance, along with increases in the use of online resources and volunteer tax assistance.
During fiscal year 2015, the IRS collected more than $3.3 trillion, processed more than 243 million tax returns and other forms, and issued more than $403 billion in tax refunds. The agency’s website continued to see heavy use, with more than 493 million visits to IRS.gov in FY 2015, and one of its most popular online tools, Where’s My Refund, handled a record-breaking 234 million inquiries, a 24-percent increase over the prior year.
The IRS experienced a more than 15-percent reduction in full-time-equivalent staffing compared to five years ago, according to the data. Operations in several areas were downsized, including the total number of individual tax return examinations, which decreased by 22 percent over the same time period.
The publication shows that permanent IRS staffing declined from 92,148 in fiscal year 2010 to 74,580 in fiscal 2015, a 19 percent decline in staffing.
The union representing IRS employees pointed to the declines in staffing. “Without an infusion of funding, the health of the IRS will continue to decline,” said National Treasury Employees Union national president Tony Reardon in a statement. “The ongoing deterioration of the IRS workforce prevents the IRS from offering the level of service taxpayers deserve, from aggressively curbing tax fraud and from effectively enforcing tax laws authored by Congress.”
This year’s publication offers a new online format to make navigating data on taxpayer assistance, enforcement and IRS operations easier, with graphic depictions of key areas and quick links to the underlying data. The Data Book and its predecessor, the IRS Annual Report, have been published for more than 150 years, but this year marks a significant step in making the statistics even more accessible.