The INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) is the revenue service of the United States federal government . The government agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury , and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue , who is appointed for a five year term by the President of the United States. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code , the federal statutory tax law of the U.S. Its duty to maximize tax revenue entails providing tax assistance to taxpayers, as well as pursuing and resolving instances of erroneous or fraudulent tax filings. The IRS has also overseen various benefits programs, and enforces portions of the Affordable Care Act .
The IRS originated with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a
federal office created in 1862 to assess the nation's first income tax
, which was to raise funds for the
American Civil War
In the 2015 fiscal year, the IRS processed almost 240 million returns and collected approximately $3.3 trillion in revenue, spending 35¢ for every $100 it collected.
* 1 History
American Civil War
* 2 Current organization
* 2.1 Commissioner * 2.2 Taxpayer Advocates * 2.3 Programs
* 3 Tax collection statistics
* 3.1 Outsourcing collection and tax-assistance
* 4 Administrative functions * 5 Controversies * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 Further reading * 9 External links
See also: Taxation history of the United States
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (1861–65)
In July 1862, during the
American Civil War
The Revenue Act of 1862 was passed as an emergency and temporary war-time tax. It copied a relatively new British system of income taxation, instead of trade and property taxation. The first income tax was passed in 1862:
* The initial rate was 3% on income over $800, which exempted most wage-earners. * In 1862 the rate was 3% on income between $600 and $10,000, and 5% on income over $10,000. * In 1864 the rate was 5% on income between $600 and $5,000; 7.5% on income $5,000–10,000; and 10% on income $10,000 and above.
By the end of the war, 10% of Union households had paid some form of income tax, and the Union raised 21% of its war revenue through income taxes.
POST CIVIL WAR, RECONSTRUCTION, AND POPULAR TAX REFORM (1866–1900)
After the Civil War, Reconstruction , railroads, and transforming the North and South war machines towards peacetime required public funding. However, in 1872, seven years after the war, lawmakers allowed the temporary Civil War income tax to expire.
Income taxes evolved, but in 1894 the Supreme Court declared the Income Tax of 1894 unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers\' Loan Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida did not take up the issue.
A copy of the very first IRS 1040 form, dated 1913, can be found at the IRS website showing that only those with incomes of $3,000 (adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $68,612 in 2011) or more were instructed to file. People filing tax forms in 1920.
In the first year after ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment , no taxes were collected—instead, taxpayers simply completed the form and the IRS checked it for accuracy. The IRS's workload jumped by ten-fold, triggering a massive restructuring. Professional tax collectors began to replace a system of "patronage" appointments. The IRS doubled its staff, but was still processing 1917 returns in 1919.
PRESIDENTIAL TAX RETURNS (1973)
From the 1950s through the 1970s, the IRS began using technology such
as microfilm to keep and organize records. Access to this information
proved controversial, when President
John Requard. Jr., accused of leaking the documents, collected delinquent taxes in the slums of Washington. In his words:
We went after people for nickels and dimes, many of them poor and in many cases illiterate people who didn't know how to deal with a government agency.
He admits he saw the returns, but denies he leaked them. When asked if he would have leaked the documents, he said: "I probably would have said, 'Yes, I'm in.'"
Reporter Jack White of The Providence Journal , won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting about Nixon's tax returns. Nixon, with a salary of $200,000, paid $792.81 in federal income tax in 1970 and $878.03 in 1971, with deductions of $571,000 for donating "vice-presidential papers". This was one of the reasons for his famous statement: "Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."
So controversial was this leak, that most later US Presidents released their tax returns (though sometimes only partially). These returns can be found online at the Tax History Project.
By the end of the Second World War, the IRS was handling sixty
million tax returns each year, using a combination of mechanical desk
calculators, accounting machines and pencil and paper forms. In 1948
punch card equipment was used. The first trial of a computer system
for income tax processing was in 1955, when an
IBM 650 installed at
Information processing in the IRS systems of the late 1960s was in batch mode; microfilm records were updated weekly and distributed to regional centers for handling tax inquiries. A project to implement an interactive, realtime system, the "Tax Administration System" was launched, that would provide thousands of local interactive terminals at IRS offices. However, the General Accounting Office prepared a report critical of the lack of protection of privacy in TAS, and the project was abandoned in 1978.
In 1995, the IRS began to use the public Internet for electronic filing. Since the introduction of e-filing, self-paced online tax services have flourished, augmenting the work of tax accountants, who were sometimes replaced.
In 2003, the IRS struck a deal with tax software vendors: The IRS would not develop online filing software and, in return, software vendors would provide free e-filing to most Americans. In 2009, 70% of filers qualified for free electronic filing of federal returns.
According to an inspector general's report, released in November 2013, identity theft in the United States is blamed for US$4 billion worth of fraudulent 2012 tax refunds by the IRS. Fraudulent claims were made with the use of stolen taxpayer identification and Social Security numbers, with returns sent to addresses both in the US and internationally. Following the release of the findings, the IRS stated that it resolved most of the identity theft cases of 2013 within 120 days, while the average time to resolve cases from the 2011/2012 tax period was 312 days.
In September 2014, IRS Commissioner
John Koskinen expressed concern
over the organization's ability to handle Obamacare and administer
premium tax credits that help people pay for health plans from the
health law’s insurance exchanges. It will also enforce the law’s
individual mandate , which requires most Americans to hold health
insurance. In January 2015,
HISTORY OF THE IRS NAME
IRS and Department of the Treasury seal on lectern
As early as the year 1918, the Bureau of Internal Revenue began using the name "Internal Revenue Service" on at least one tax form. In 1953, the name change to the "Internal Revenue Service" was formalized in Treasury Decision 6038.
The 1980s saw a reorganization of the IRS. A bipartisan commission was created with several mandates, among them to increase customer service and improve collections. Congress later enacted the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 .
As a result of that Act, the IRS now functions under four major operating divisions: Large Business and International division (LB&I), the Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) division, the Wage and Investment (W&I) division, and Tax Exempt & Government Entities (TE/GE) division. Effective October 1, 2010, the name of the Large and Mid-Size Business division changed to the Large Business & International (LB Holtsville, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA; and Memphis, TN. This currently leaves five centers processing returns: Austin, TX; Covington, KY; Fresno, CA; Kansas City, MO; and Ogden, UT. In October 2016 the IRS announced that three more centers will close over a six-year period: Covington, KY in 2019; Fresno, CA in 2021; and Austin, TX in 2024. This will leave Kansas City, MO and Ogden, UT as the final two submission processing centers after 2024.
The IRS also operates three computer centers around the country (in Detroit, Michigan; Martinsburg, West Virginia; and Memphis, Tennessee).
Main article: Commissioner of Internal Revenue
There have been 47 previous commissioners of Internal Revenue and 26 acting commissioners since the agency was created in 1862.
Senior official at the Office of Management and Budget Daniel Werfel was announced as the acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Werfel, who attended law school at the University of North Carolina and attained a master's degree from Duke University, prepared the government for a potential shutdown in 2011 by determining which services that would remain in existence.
No IRS commissioner has served more than five years and one month
since Guy Helvering, who served 10 years until 1943. The most recent
commissioner to serve the longest term was Doug Shulman, who was
appointed by President
George W. Bush
The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate , also called the Taxpayer Advocate Service, is an independent office within the IRS responsible for assisting taxpayers in resolving their problems with the IRS, as well as identifying systemic problems that exist within the IRS. The current United States Taxpayer Advocate , also known as the National Taxpayer Advocate, is Nina E. Olson .
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) are volunteer programs that the IRS runs to train volunteers and provide tax assistance and counseling to taxpayers. Volunteers can study e-course material, take tests, and practice using tax-preparation software. Link margin:auto;position:relative;width:200px;height:200px;overflow:hidden">
Collections before Refunds by Type of Return, Fiscal Year 2010 Individual income tax (49.9%) Employment taxes (35.3%) Corporate income taxes (11.9%) Excise taxes (2.0%) Estate taxes (0.7%) Other (0.2%)
Summary of Collections before Refunds by Type of Return, Fiscal Year 2010:
TYPE OF RETURN NUMBER OF RETURNS Gross Collections to the nearest million US$
Individual Income Tax 141,166,805 1,163,688
Employment Taxes 29,493,234 824,188
Corporate Income Tax 2,355,803 277,937
Excise Taxes 836,793 47,190
Gift Tax 286,522 2,820
Estate Tax 28,780 16,931
Total 174,405,682 2,332,754
New York City
For fiscal year 2009, the U.S. Congress appropriated spending of approximately $12.624 billion of "discretionary budget authority" to operate the Department of the Treasury, of which $11.522 billion was allocated to the IRS. The projected estimate of the budget for the IRS for fiscal year 2011 was $12.633 billion. By contrast, during Fiscal Year (FY) 2006, the IRS collected more than $2.2 trillion in tax (net of refunds), about 44 percent of which was attributable to the individual income tax. This is partially due to the nature of the individual income tax category, containing taxes collected from working class, small business, self-employed, and capital gains. The top 5% of income earners pay 38.284% of the federal tax collected.
As of 2007, the agency estimates that the United States Treasury is owed $354 billion more than the amount the IRS collects.
In 2011, 234 million tax returns were filed allowing the IRS to collect $2.4 trillion out of which $384 billion were attributed to mistake or fraud .
OUTSOURCING COLLECTION AND TAX-ASSISTANCE
In September 2006, the IRS started to outsource the collection of taxpayers debts to private debt collection agencies. Opponents to this change note that the IRS will be handing over personal information to these debt collection agencies, who are being paid between 29% and 39% of the amount collected. Opponents are also worried about the agencies' being paid on percent collected, because it will encourage the collectors to use pressure tactics to collect the maximum amount. IRS spokesman Terry Lemons responds to these critics saying the new system "is a sound, balanced program that respects taxpayers' rights and taxpayer privacy." Other state and local agencies also use private collection agencies.
In March 2009, the IRS announced that it would no longer outsource the collection of taxpayers debts to private debt collection agencies. The IRS decided not to renew contracts to private debt collection agencies, and began a hiring program at its call sites and processing centers across the country to bring on more personnel to process collections internally from taxpayers. As of October 2009, the IRS has ceased using private debt collection agencies.
In September 2009, after undercover exposé videos of questionable activities by staff of one of the IRS's volunteer tax-assistance organizations were made public, the IRS removed ACORN from its volunteer tax-assistance program.
The IRS publishes tax forms which taxpayers are required to choose from and use for calculating and reporting their federal tax obligations. The IRS also publishes a number of forms for its own internal operations, such as Forms 3471 and 4228 (which are used during the initial processing of income tax returns).
In addition to collection of revenue and pursuing tax cheaters, the IRS issues administrative rulings such as revenue rulings and private letter rulings . In addition, the Service publishes the Internal Revenue Bulletin containing the various IRS pronouncements. The controlling authority of regulations and revenue rulings allows taxpayers to rely on them. A private letter ruling is good for the taxpayer to whom it is issued, and gives some explanation of the Service's position on a particular tax issue. Additionally, a private letter ruling reasonably relied upon by a taxpayer allows for the waiver of penalties for underpayment of tax.
As is the case with all administrative pronouncements, taxpayers
sometimes litigate the validity of the pronouncements, and courts
sometimes determine a particular rule to be invalid where the agency
has exceeded its grant of authority. The IRS also issues formal
Revenue Procedures , that among other things
tell taxpayers how to correct prior tax errors. The IRS's own internal
operations manual is the
Internal Revenue Manual , which describes the
clerical procedures for processing and auditing tax returns in
excruciating detail. For example, the
Internal Revenue Manual contains
a special procedure for processing the tax returns of the President
President of the United States
More formal rulemaking to give the Service's interpretation of a statute, or when the statute itself directs that the Secretary of the Treasury shall provide, IRS undergoes the formal regulation process with a Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register announcing the proposed regulation, the date of the in-person hearing, and the process for interested parties to have their views heard either in person at the hearing in Washington, D.C., or by mail. Following the statutory period provided in the Administrative Procedure Act the Service decides on the final regulations "as is," or as reflecting changes, or sometimes withdraws the proposed regulations. Generally, taxpayers may rely on proposed regulations until final regulations become effective. For example, human resource professionals are relying on the October 4, 2005 Proposed Regulations (citation 70 F.R. 57930-57984) for the Section 409A on deferred compensation (the so-called Enron rules on deferred compensation to add teeth to the old rules) because regulations have not been finalized.
The IRS oversaw the Homebuyer Credit and First Time Homebuyer Credit programs instituted by the federal government from 2008-2010. Those programs provided United States citizens with money toward the purchase of homes, regardless of income tax filings.
See also: Political profiling at the Internal Revenue Service Activists at IRS facility in Mountainside, New Jersey on May 21, 2013, protesting IRS targeting of partisan groups.
The IRS has been accused of abusive behavior on multiple occasions. Testimony was given before a Senate subcommittee that focused on cases of overly aggressive IRS collection tactics in considering a need for legislation to give taxpayers greater protection in disputes with the agency.
Congress passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights III on July 22, 1998, which shifted the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the IRS in certain limited situations. The IRS retains the legal authority to enforce liens and seize assets without obtaining judgment in court.
Michael Minns was the defense lawyer in a case against the IRS on behalf of James and Pamela Moran, after an initial indictment in what Minns asserts was an IRS smear campaign that virtually canvassed the taxpayers' own hometown and surrounding area. The original indictment was associated with the Morans' involvement with a tax shelter provider, Anderson's Ark and the Subcommittee Minority staff, which did not join the Majority staff report, filed a dissenting report entitled, “IRS Targeting Tea Party Groups.”
On May 25, 2015, the agency announced that criminals had illegally accessed the private tax information of over 100,000 taxpayers over a period of several months. By providing Social Security Numbers and other information obtained from prior computer crimes, the criminals were able to use the IRS's online "Get Transcript" function to have the IRS provide them with the tax returns and other private information of American tax filers. On August 17, 2015, IRS disclosed that the breach had compromised an additional 220,000 taxpayer records. On February 27, 2016, the IRS disclosed that more than 700,000 social security numbers and other sensitive information had been stolen.
* Government of the United States portal
* ^ "Office of
Commissioner of Internal Revenue (Created by an act
of Congress, July 1, 1862)". US Internal Revenue Service. Archived
from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
* ^ Internal Revenue Service. "The Agency, its Mission and
Statutory Authority". IRS. Retrieved December 24, 2013.
* ^ A B "
Internal Revenue Service
* Davis, Shelley L.; Matalin, Mary (1997). Unbridled Power: Inside
the Secret Culture of the IRS. New York: