Taxes: Where We All Stand…Where Do You Stand

By: Benjamin Dorsey, CPA, CFP®, CDFA™, MST | Director of Ta x Services

Each year after September, the IRS releases preliminary data for the previous filing year’s tax returns. The most recent publication reports tax return data for returns processed for tax year 2013 (2014 preliminary data will be available later this year). With that in mind, below are some highlights of where the country’s taxpayers stood in terms of tax return data as well as comparisons to how things looked for tax returns filed in prior years. Take a look and see where you stand.

1. 147.7 million tax returns were filed for tax year 2013. This represents a 1.9% increase compared to the 144.9 million returns that were filed for tax year 2012.

2. Of the 147.7 million tax returns filed for tax year 2013, 54.5 million (36.8%) were filed by married couples filing jointly.

3. Adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxable income both rose by 0.8% in 2013 as compared to 2012, while total tax increased by 3.6%.

4. 2013 was the first year of the Net Investment Income Tax ($11.68 billion in taxes collected in 2013), Additional Medicare Tax ($6.64 billion in taxes collected in 2013), and the new 39.6% tax bracket (35% had been the highest bracket in 2012).

5. The average AGI for all 2013 tax returns filed was $61,688. Of this amount, $44,857 came from salaries and wages.

6. AGI for all tax returns filed for 2013 totaled $9.11 trillion. Of this total, $6.63 trillion (72.7%) was related to salaries and wages.

7. Salaries and wages increased 2.6% year-over-year compared to 2012. Taxable distributions from pensions, annuities, 401(k)s, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) increased 4.6% year-over-year. The S&P 500 returned 32.43% to investors for
calendar year 2013.

8. Unemployment compensation decreased to $52.18 billion for tax returns filed in 2013. This represented a 27% decrease from tax returns filed for tax year 2012. The national unemployment rate decreased from 7.9% in December 2012 to 6.7% in December 2013, a decrease of 15.2% year-over-year.

9. U.S. taxpayers received $25.92 billion from state income tax refunds in 2013. That equates to $175 per tax return filed. If a taxpayer received a state income tax refund of that amount every year and invested it at an 8% return for 40 years, she would have an additional $46,630 in her nest egg.

10. National estimates calculated total student loans outstanding in 2013 to be $1.2 trillion. Using an average interest rate of 4%, the total loan interest paid would amount to $48 billion. Student loan interest reported as a tax deduction on 2013 tax returns was $11.75 billion. The IRS limits student loan interest deductions to $2,500 per return, and disallows the deduction completely for joint filers with AGI over $150,000.

11. Electronic tax return filing comprised 85.6% of all tax return submissions for tax year 2013 (126.53 million submissions). Only 80 million taxpayers filed their 2007 tax returns electronically.

12. Total U.S. public debt outstanding was $16.43 trillion at Dec. 31, 2012. The national debt increased to $17.35 trillion at Dec. 31, 2013 (representing a $920 billion increase, or 5.5%). Total income-tax liability before applicable credits for all taxpayers during 2013 was $1.29 trillion.