Going it alone or with an accountant, Americans spend long hours preparing their tax returns, grappling with arcane rules and a steady addition of changes to the tax code. If tax compliance were a single industry, it would rank among the largest in the U.S. Here are a few facts and figures.
6.1 billion: Hours annually spent preparing taxes by businesses, individuals and the experts they hire.
3 million: Full-time workers employed in the tax-preparation industry.
90,000: Full-time workers employed by the Internal Revenue Service.
4,680: Changes to the federal tax code since 2001, an average of more than one every day.
66 percent: Tax filers calling the IRS with questions about their return who speak to a live person.
17 minutes: Average time tax filers spent on hold after calling the IRS with a question.
1 million+: Pieces of unanswered mail from tax filers in the IRS’ backlog at the end of 2012.
Sources: FacetheFactsUSA.org; McClatchy News Service