Americans Spend 6.1 Billion Hours Per Year Complying With US Tax Laws

And now for your feel good story of the day. Okay, I’m being sarcastic, this will only make you feel good if you’re a progressive. Otherwise, not so much.

While the burden of complying with all those words has been calculated in different ways, [National Taxpayer Advocate Nina] Olson multiplied the IRS’ own estimates of how much time taxpayers spend collecting data for and filling out each individual tax form by the number of forms filed to estimate that Americans (both individuals and businesses) spend 6.1 billion hours a year complying with the code. That’s the equivalent of more than 3 million workers toiling away full time, all year. By way of comparison, the Federal government employs the equivalent of 2.1 million full-time civilian workers and Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, has 1.4 million workers in the U.S., although not all are full time.

Complexity is also raising individual taxpayers’ out-of-pocket costs for filing their 1040s, Olson noted. About 60% of individual taxpayers now pay CPAs, enrolled agents, H&R Block or other services to prepare their returns while another 29% use software, such as Intuit’s TurboTax. According to a recent IRS study, the median individual taxpayer (as measured by income) spent $258 in 2007 for tax prep, up from $220 in 2000, in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars.

Olsen’s Annual Report to Congress can be found here.

Via TaxProf Blog