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Taxes: Some Fun Tax Stats and Facts for the 2011 Filing Deadline

by on April 13, 2012

By Samantha Savory

Today is the deadline to file your 2011 federal income taxes with the IRS. If you haven’t gotten your forms filled out and in the mail, you better get moving to avoid that annoying 5% penalty fee for every month you file late. If you have already filed, it’s time to sit back, brainstorm about what you’ll do with that sweet refund (the average refund estimate for this year is $3,070), and read on to find some fun and interesting facts about U.S. federal income taxes.

Tax Statistics

  • If $3,070 doesn’t sound like a good amount of money to you, just be glad you live in the U.S. – the average estimated refund for our neighbors to the north in Canada is $1,506.
  • Interestingly enough, even though their refunds are only about half of ours, Canadians are apparently much more likely to be honest in their returns. In 2010, the IRS reported 335,341 fraudulent returns; the Canada Revenue Agency only had 562 cases of fraud.
  • The fraudulent American returns identified by the IRS prevented $1.88 billion in fraudulent refunds being issued.
  • Even during a tough economy, at least some consumers are having luck getting their first home. The IRS reported 37,273 taxpayers took advantage of the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, for a total claim of $262 million.
  • Another tax credit—the Adoption Tax Credit—paid out a total claim of $125 million to 9.859 that brought legally adopted kids home in 2010.

A Little Fun Tax History Trivia

  • The 16th Amendment ratified on February 3, 1913 allowed Congress to levy personal income taxes without appointment by the states. This was the start of the modern tax code in the U.S.
  • The tax look-up table you use to calculate your taxes was created in 1941 for low-income taxpayers to make it easier for them to file. It was later expanded to high-income tax brackets as well.
  • Everyone in the U.S. had to go through the time-consuming and often frustrating process of itemizing their deductions until 1941 when the standard deduction concept was created.
  • The highly advantageous, now extremely controversial rules for capital gains taxes were established in 1922; although they have been modified several times in their specifics, they are largely the same rules established originally as far as their meaning and intent.
  • State gasoline taxes were allowed as a deduction until 1979. State sales taxes were deductible until 1987.
  • State and local government employees enjoyed a salary take exemption until 1939, when the exemption was rejected.
  • Unemployment compensation was deemed as partially taxable in 1979; it was made fully taxable in 1987.
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