Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States
Category: Business and Money > Finance
Asked by: kappyben1-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 06 Dec 2004 07:36 PST
Expires: 05 Jan 2005 07:36 PST
Question ID: 438772
Hi -- 

What is the tax compliance rate in the United States? In other words,
where can I find credible estimates of the percentage of people in the
US who pay taxes?


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 06 Dec 2004 07:51 PST
You probably can't.  The IRS freely admits that their estimates of
non-payment or under-payment of taxes is more than a decade old, and
they have no good numbers on the current rates of non-compliance.

Best I can do is point you to some up-to-date IRS statements to this
effect.  But I don't think anyone can offer you the statistics you're
looking for.

Let me know what you think.


Clarification of Question by kappyben1-ga on 06 Dec 2004 08:42 PST
Thanks, pafalafa. I suspect you're right. I looked around for quite a
bit with no luck. But I guess I'll wait a day and see if anyone knows
anything more.

If not, I would love for you to point me to some up-to-date IRS
statements saying that no reliable estimates exist for tax compliance
rates in the US. Then I'll send payment to you.



Clarification of Question by kappyben1-ga on 07 Dec 2004 05:55 PST
Hey pafalafa -- If you could point me to those sites I'd really appreciate it.


Subject: Re: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 07 Dec 2004 08:09 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Ben,

The concept you asked about -- the difference in the amount IRS
collects and the amount it would collect with 100% compliance -- is
known in the business as the "tax gap".  If you search this phrase in
Google (with the quotation marks), you'll come up with a ton of

Here are a few of the more notable ones of recent vintage:
?BRIDGING THE TAX GAP? July 21, 2004

"The IRS does not have the information needed to make reliable
estimates of the filing noncompliance and reporting noncompliance
components of the tax gap, the relative sizes of these three main
components to the tax gap, or the total size of the current tax gap.
...Simply put, the information on noncompliance currently available to
the IRS is over 15 years old, and in many cases even older. The IRS?
Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program (TCMP) last evaluated data
from 1988."
Statement of Raymond T. Wagner, Jr. Member, Internal Revenue Service
Oversight Board Testimony Before the Senate Finance Committee July 21,
2004 Hearing on Bridging the Tax Gap

"Mr. Chairman, the National Taxpayer Advocate reported in her 2003
Report to Congress that the IRS has estimated the gross tax gap for
2001 as approximately $311 billion. This amount is the difference
between what taxpayers pay voluntarily and what they are supposed to
pay. The IRS also collects approximately $55 billion as a result of
late payments and additional enforcement activities, so the net tax
gap for 2001 was estimated at about $255 billion....These numbers
sound precise, but they are in fact estimates. The exact size of the
tax gap is uncertain. The Commissioner made this point in testimony
earlier this year before both the House and Senate Appropriations
Committees. Current estimates are based on a model developed under the
now-defunct Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program (TCMP),last used
in 1988. The program?s model was extended to 2001 based on current
demographics, but assumes that taxpayer behavior remains the same.",,id=96708,00.html
Individual Tax Statistics - Tax Gap 
[there are links to a series of reports at this site]

Hope this information meets your needs.  But before rating this
answer, please let me know if there's anything else I can assist you

All the best,


search strategy:  Google search on ["tax gap"]

Request for Answer Clarification by kappyben1-ga on 13 Dec 2004 11:06 PST
Hey paf -- You don't want to take a shot at this question for $12?

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 13 Dec 2004 11:21 PST
Hey Ben, nice to hear from you.

I did see your other question, but truth be told, the US is so much
more data-rich than other countries, that I didn't think there was
much chance of finding the type of info you're looking for on an
international scale.

The closest I came was this October 2004 OECD report (a useful
resource for international financial comparisons, by the way):
Compliance Risk Management:
Managing and Improving Tax Compliance

The only really quantitative information on non-compliance in the
entire report is shown in Figure 5.2 and comes from...surprise!...the

I wish I could point you to as more complete source of info, but alas,
I suspect that one doesn't exist.  You may want to contact the authors
of the OECD report, however, to see if they're aware of anything.

All the best...

kappyben1-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
Excellent work!

Subject: Re: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States
From: pafalafa-ga on 07 Dec 2004 08:56 PST
100% TIP!!!!

Wow, Ben...I sure could use a lot more customers like you.  Thanks a
lot, happy holidays, and come back and visit us again soon.

Subject: Re: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States
From: kappyben1-ga on 13 Dec 2004 11:06 PST
Hey paf -- You don't want to take a shot at this question for $12?
Subject: Re: Tax Compliance Rate in the United States
From: kappyben1-ga on 13 Dec 2004 13:13 PST
OK. Thanks so much. I appreciate your help. I hope to work with you
again in the future.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy