How the IRS has changed since 1974

April 2

This afternoon Donald Korb delivered the 2014 Norman A. Sugarman tax law lecture at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.  His subject was “40 Years of Tax Law.” Korb, a 1973 CWRU graduate, served several stints in the Internal Revenue Service, most recently as Chief Counsel from 2004-2008.  In his lecture, Korb noted how the agency and tax code have grown.  Consider:

  • In 1974 there were 1,500 pages in the Internal Revenue Code, compared to approximately 5,500 pages today.
  • In 1974 there were approximately 12,100 pages of Treasury Regulations, compared to over 44,000 pages today.
  • The IRS has approximately 78,000 employees in 1974 and approximately 89,500 today.

While the IRS is somewhat larger and the rules it administers have become far more complex, not all measures of IRS activity have increased.

  • The top marginal income tax rate was 70 percent for individuals and 48 percent for corporations in 1974, but only 43.4 percent and 35 percent respectively today.
  • In 1974 the IRS issued 636 Revenue Rulings, but issued only 50 Revenue Rulings in 2013.
  • In 1974 the IRS issued approximately 14,000 private letter rulings, but issued fewer than 2,600 in 2013.

For those interested a video of the lecture will soon be available at this link.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
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Will Baude | April 2