I’ve been away for a few days — but on the way back to D.C. this afternoon, this factoid from the IRS’s national taxpayer advocate screamed out at me from the pages of USA Today:

“Federal tax-filing requirements have become so complex that they eat up 7.6 billion work hours a year, making the overall compliance effort equivalent to one of the nation’s largest industries.” 

(ArticleIRS report)   

6 Responses to “Factoid of the day: Talk about taxing”

  1. Dan: This certainly sounded ominous to me when I read it, and I have no doubt the process can always be streamlined.

    I’m wondering about the larger context though. Given the revenues brought in, does the IRS qualify as one of our largest industries. If so, maybe these “labor hours” are appropriate for the “work and workforce” of this industry. And if it is not, what would an appropriate number of work hours be given the revenues collected.

    It’s a great shock stat but I’m curious about its deeper meaning.

  2. C. A. Hurst says:

    Hi Dan, and Jeff,

    Jeff, I agree with you totally. This is an ominous statistic and I think indicates a deplorable waste of time and resources. Only a government bureaucracy can afford this kind of waste.

    I think it would be appropriate to apply the principles of ROWE as suggested by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson to the entire governmental apparatus. Let’s find out who’s getting what done and determine if they’re performing their tasks efficiently and on time. If they’re not, they need to be given their walking papers.

  3. Bill Raymond says:

    Dan, Jeff and C.A.

    I read this statistic a little differently – does the 7.6 billion hours represent time put in by the IRS bureaucracy or does it represent time put in by taxpayers in filing tax returns? Either way, it is ominous. Also, I totally agree with C.A. – I am fascinated by the ROWE concept and direct a department in a local government environment. I would love to implement the concept in my department but you can imagine the implications of trying to do so in a taxpayer supported setting. My sense is that all of the bureaucratic minutiae only leads to waste and inefficiency. The 21st century workforce and workplace is changing and I think government (and many businesses) need to catch up with the future – it’s here now.

  4. Jim says:

    I have an idea. Let’s have the government take over health care. I’m sure they can apply the same principals of success from their tax business.

  5. I’m pretty sure it’s the number of hours spent preparing tax returns, not the IRS bureaucracy. Hence the questions I posed.

  6. C. A. Hurst says:

    Hi Bill,

    Have you read Cali and Jody’s book yet?

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