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It’s Over for Another Year

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Tax season has just ended, and I felt it would be an appropriate time to feature data that the IRS gathers from our annual tax returns (none of it attributed to individual companies, individuals, or non-profits!).

Internal Revenue Bureau, counting Internal Revenue stamps, 1914

There are two particular publications I wanted to mention that both use the data gathered from the forms:  the Data Book and Statistics of Income Bulletin (SOI Bulletin).  The Data Book is all about charts such as “Number of Returns Filed, by Type of Return and State” and “First-Time Homebuyer Credit, by State.” The SOI Bulletin uses the data to create topical articles, such as “Foreign Recipients of U.S. Income, 2005” and “High-Income Tax Returns for 2007.”

I frequently use IRS data to answer questions.  For example, I have been asked several times about the number of businesses for a particular year, and IRS data is a good place to start.  For example, in 1980 there were 13,021,904 businesses with a total of $7,064,487,840 in receipts (in thousands).  But the picture was quite different by 2007 when there were 32,087,881businesses with a total of $34,331,159,662 in receipts. A big change in 27 years!  I have also been asked about the number of people who filed returns (in 2008 there were 142,450,569 individual income tax returns filed) or the number of 501(c)(3) charities in the U.S. (in 2007 there were 249,761).

While most researchers don’t have access to the historical print versions of these sources from our collection, many are now available on the IRS’s TaxStats web site in the Archive link under Products, Publications, & Papers.


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