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A Taxing Season

By the Numbers

As Benjamin Franklin aptly noted, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Might we add another inevitability—namely, the dread that for many accompanies the tax season?

With Tax Day looming—April 17 this year—it’s time to break out the calculator and make sure your finances are in order.

A sad woman leaning over a table covered with papers that say tax on them

700,000

The estimated number of taxpayer accounts with personal information accessed during a 2015 security breach on the IRS.

Keeping an eye out for strange activity surrounding your tax returns—such as requests for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, sometimes accompanied by threats of involving law enforcement for noncompliance—can help you avoid scams. The IRS will send you a bill in the mail if you owe any taxes, and it will allow you to appeal the amount. To combat possible security threats, the IRS has implemented new safeguards, including strengthened authentications, extended theft protections, enhanced password requirements, and the ability to flag suspicious activity.

Source: USA Today, IRS.gov

0.8%

Your chances of being audited by the IRS.

The White House

If you live in the White House, the probability of an audit is 100 percent, but for most Americans the odds are slim. Those odds increase when you report either no income or an income of more than $10 million, file a large estate tax return, file internationally, or report unusual or unrealistic itemized deductions.

Source: Kiplinger, Time

20

How many times more likely you are to make a mistake if you file your taxes on paper rather than online.

A person filling out tax forms

You might want to tell your family and friends that filing their taxes the old-fashioned way might not be the most accurate method. Fortunately, most Americans already got the memo: 91 percent now file online, where a host of commercial services can help simplify and quicken the process. Plus, if your adjusted gross income is less than $66,000, you can use the IRS’s free online filing tool.

Source: EFile, IRS

7,655,000

The number of words in the Federal Tax Regulations

Les Misérables book

That’s not including the newly passed federal internal revenue code or the extensive tax-related case law that is often crucial to understanding the tax code. As of 2016, the total word count was more than 10 million. Can’t wrap your head around that number? Consider reading every word of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables eighteen times!

Source: Tax Foundation

8

The average number of hours each American spends filing an individual tax return.

It’s about the same number of hours recommended for a good night’s sleep, and we’re guessing the stress of filing could be making you more restless. To make the process more painless, stay organized by keeping important documents in one place or using an app such as IRS2Go or Ask a CPA.

Source: Tax Foundation

1,400

The approximate number of hours BYU students spent helping file tax returns at the school’s VITA site in 2017.

A man helping an old woman sort through receipts

Each year, Marriott School students make up the majority of the site’s IRS-certified volunteers who donate their time and skills to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers free tax preparation help to individuals in need. For the 2016 tax year, 121 volunteers completed 2,578 federal and state tax returns.

Source: BYU VITA Lab

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Written by Kasee Bailey

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