TIGTA: IRS Increased Total Tax Revenue, But Enforcement Is Down

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 29, 2016

A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said that in 2015 the IRS was able to increase the amount of revenue it collected, despite staff turnover as a result of budget cuts, though in the same time period enforcement activity and examinations declined.

IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, in a report to Congress submitted in March, said that, adjusted for inflation, the IRS budget has shrunk by about 19 percent since 2010. Consequently, the TIGTA report noted that the number of full-time IRS employees has decreased by 16 percent since FY 2011, going from 93,906 workers to 78,547 by the end of FY 2015. This has hit enforcement personnel particularly hard, with total number of personnel lowering 31 percent since FY 2010. 

Despite this, the TIGTA report said that the IRS collected more revenue in 2015 than the previous year, $3.3 trillion, over the $3.1 trillion collected in 2014. TIGTA pointed out that the latest sum is 37 percent higher than the $2.4 trillion collected in 2011.

The share of this that came from enforcement activities, however, was lower, going from $57.1 billion in 2014 to $54.2 billion in 2015 (though the report said that 2014 was a particularly good year for tax enforcement, and that the 2015 figures are 2 percent higher than the 2011 through 2013 averages). Much of this came from the Collections function--revenue collected through there has increased 17 percent since 2012. 

Examinations, meanwhile, accounted for its lowest share of total revenue in the past five years, $7.3 billion. 

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