Internal Revenue Service
Headquarters: 1111 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20224
Commissioner: Douglas Shulman
The Internal Revenue Service is a division of the Department of Treasury and responsible for collecting income tax and enforcing tax laws.
The deadline for filing taxes in 2011 is April 18.
In fiscal 2010, the IRS collected more than $2.34 trillion in revenue and processed more than 230 million tax returns. A total of $467 billion in refunds were sent to taxpayers. Of the 141 million individual income tax returns processed, 70 percent were filed electronically.
Almost every American who earns money needs to file a tax return for the previous year's income.
Taxpayers can file using traditional tax forms or online. Free tax preparation and e-filing is available to individuals if your adjusted gross income is $56,000 or less.
The IRS stopped mailing tax forms and instructions for the 2010 tax year to save an estimated $10 million. Forms can be printed online or found at local libraries.
The IRS is made up of four operating divisions:
- The Wage & Investment (W&I) Division services more than 120 million individual taxpayers, primarily wage earners. Headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
- The Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division services more than 30 million self-employed taxpayers, corporations and partnerships with assets of less than $10 million. Headquarters in Lanham, MD.
- The Large and Mid-Size Business (LMSB) Division services corporations and partnerships operating in the US with assets greater than $10 million. Headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
- The Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division services a large and unique economic sector of organizations including exempt organizations, pension plans, governmental entities and tax-exempt bond issuers.
The IRS hires about 12,000 seasonal and temporary employees each year to help with data transcribing, clerical work and customer service. In 2010, the IRS had a total work force of 107,621, including seasonal and part-time employees.
The roots of IRS go back to the Civil War when President Lincoln and Congress, in 1862, created the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay war expenses. The income tax was repealed 10 years later. Congress revived the income tax in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year.
In 1913, Wyoming ratified the 16th Amendment, providing the three-quarter majority of states necessary to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment gave Congress the authority to enact an income tax. That same year, the first Form 1040 appeared after Congress levied a 1 percent tax on net personal incomes above $3,000 with a 6 percent surtax on incomes of more than $500,000.
In 1918, during World War I, the top rate of the income tax rose to 77 percent to help finance the war effort. It dropped sharply in the post-war years, down to 24 percent in 1929, and rose again during the Depression. During World War II, Congress introduced payroll withholding and quarterly tax payments.
In the 1950s, the agency was reorganized to replace a patronage system with career, professional employees. The Bureau of Internal Revenue name was changed to the Internal Revenue Service. Only the IRS commissioner and chief counsel are selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Updated April 1, 2011