Give Me Your Wallet! A Visualization of IRS Tax Collection, 1960 – 2010

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

What is less certain is what those taxes will be called – the tax code continues to get more and more complex every year.  The IRS puts out a data report annually about their fiscal year which includes tax collections by the type of tax (Table 6).  These numbers are not the final numbers – those numbers are arrived at once all credits and refunds are complete.  However, the chart that results is instructive, and it allows us to visualize how the tax code has change over the years to collect revenue from the country in different ways.

In the chart that follows, you can turn off individual categories so you can see how individual categories stack up (and please click through if you are reading this in a RSS reader or email).  Note the relative size of the estate and gift taxes.  For the amount of interest they receive, they are an insignificant portion of total tax collections.

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  1. says

    I wonder what that chart would look like with all of the REAL data.  You know the actual numbers, not the fudged business books, with the people who fail to take payroll from their companies, with the bums who run and hide from the IRS like Lenny Dykstra, Pete Rose, Wesley Snipes, etc.  THOSE numbers.  Maybe it will look oddly similar, but I’d love to have an idea as to how far off the reported numbers are from what the true values should be.

    • says


      I’ve done some digging into the tax gap, but the IRS doesn’t release those numbers annually. Here’s what they’ve got on 2001:

      “The 2001 tax gap, the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid on time is from $312 billion to $353 billion for all types of taxes.”

      The other important this is these numbers are for the IRS’s fiscal year. So, while they do include returns and refunds from the previous years, they wouldn’t include them fro the current. If the delta between the years was large enough it would make a material difference, but the chart is still ‘close enough’ for our purposes.

      Thanks for the comment!

      • says

        Oh, don’t let the IRS hear you say “close enough” or they’ll audit you just on principal!

        I still think that people who AVOID paying taxes should be thrown in jail immediately.  It’s like mass theft or something.  Well, maybe it just pisses me off.

        • says

          Your comment reminded me of something ironic I read back during the ‘John Edwards / Rielle Hunter‘ coverup story (that article has some of the background)… when Edwards was collecting money from Rachel Mellon to hide the affair from his wife, Ms. Mellon was apparently declaring everything to the IRS as political donations. I can only assume Mr. Edwards did the same.

          The irony? You can lie to your spouse, but don’t even think about lying to the IRS!

        • says

          Hello, may I join in.

          I agree with you- but how immediate is immediately?

          Let us remember that there is a difference between evading taxes and avoiding taxes. The latter is legal  and the former one can put you in jail- just the same as what happened to Al Capone.

          There are many ways to avoid taxes, our law has lots of loopholes and windows.

          Best regards,


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