Letter from the Commissioner
The 2011 Internal Revenue Service Data Book [PDF] details IRS activities for Fiscal Year 2011 (October 1, 2010, through September 30, 2011). This annual report catalogs the many ways in which our dedicated employees serve the American taxpayer.
During Fiscal Year 2011, the IRS processed more than 234 million returns, including individual income, corporate income, and employment income tax returns. We provided nearly $416 billion in refunds to these taxpayers and collected $2.4 trillion in Federal revenue.
We provided taxpayer assistance through 319 million visits to IRS.gov and assisted nearly 83 million taxpayers via our toll-free telephone helpline or at walk-in sites. Of the more than 143 million individual income tax returns processed, 77 percent were filed electronically.
In 2011, the IRS worked to help taxpayers struggling with economic challenges meet their tax obligations while reducing burden. For example, we launched the Fresh Start initiative, which made major improvements to our collection process. We also extended additional help to innocent spouses, allowing more of these taxpayers to qualify to make relief requests.
As part of our efforts to improve taxpayer service, we took the next steps in our Return Preparer Program, which is designed to ensure that high standards of competency and conduct for preparers are maintained across the board. With our preparer registration system in place, we moved on to develop the testing and continuing education components of the initiative.
Also in 2011, the IRS continued to evolve its relationship with corporate taxpayers, focusing on creating forums and venues to resolve issues faster and provide more certainty. To this end, we launched our Uncertain Tax Positions reporting requirement and expanded our Compliance Assurance Program.
In the enforcement area, we have made major strides in breaking through the walls of international bank secrecy with very successful voluntary disclosure programs in 2009 and 2011. Together these generated 34,000 voluntary disclosures of overseas accounts and resulted in collections of about $4.4 billion so far. We have reopened the voluntary disclosure program to allow additional taxpayers to come forward.
Looking ahead, I am confident that in 2012 we will continue to provide balanced examination and collection coverage and improve our efforts to provide excellent customer service to taxpayers. We are delivering the most substantial updates to our core tax processing system in many years. We are also taking additional steps toward my vision of a “Real Time” tax system. The idea behind this vision is to resolve issues much more quickly with individual taxpayers by dealing with them in real time, instead of months or years after they have filed their returns.
We will also keep our focus on our workforce, by continuing efforts to make the IRS the best place to work in government. In 2011, the IRS once again showed improvement in its rankings in the Best Places To Work in the Federal Government survey, and we intend to do everything we can to keep the momentum going. On behalf of the women and men of the IRS, I am proud to give you this year’s issue of the IRS Data Book.