How Many Tax Returns Are Filed Each Year? (2024)

How many tax returns are filed each year? Learn about U.S. tax filing statistics and what these numbers can tell you about America’s economics.

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 3 mins

Number of Tax Returns Filed in U.S. (1996-2021)

Discover U.S. tax filing trends, economic impacts, and policy effects on taxpayers and system fairness.

The Number of Taxpayers in America: An Overview

Over the past few decades, the United States has witnessed significant fluctuations in the number of individuals and entities filing tax returns. How many tax returns are filed each year? Starting from 1996, with over 120 million tax returns filed, there has been a noticeable upward trajectory, reaching over 163 million by 2023. This growth reflects various economic, demographic, and policy-driven factors influencing the tax base in the country.

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Upon closer examination of the IRS data detailing how many tax returns were filed each year from 1996 to 2021, a nuanced story of growth and fluctuation emerges. Starting at 120.35 million filings in 1996, there's a clear upward trajectory, reaching an estimated 160.82 million by 2021. How many tax returns were filed in 2022? The numbers dipped slightly in 2022 to 160.57 million before rebounding to 163.15 million in 2023.

Notable dips following the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, the 2008 financial crisis, and a slight decrease after the 2020 peak — likely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic — highlight the sensitivity of tax filings to economic conditions. The data not only reflects the expanding taxpayer base but also the resilience and responsiveness of the U.S. economy to global and domestic challenges.

At the same time, these numbers also reveal a sad truth about the U.S. economy. The average work week for all workers, including full-time, part-time, and multiple-job employees, is over 34 hours. Yet when the economy hits headwinds, these hard workers face layoffs or reduced hours that depress their incomes so far that they do not need to file taxes.

The personal savings rate has trended downward and most Americans lack the savings to withstand a financial emergency such as a health problem, leaving them to rely on workers’ compensation or personal injury claims. Without a safety net, these workers risk falling below the filing threshold and, thus, are not included in the IRS statistics of annual filers.

Who Pays Income Taxes in the United States?

The questions of who pays income taxes in the United States and the number of taxpayers in America can be complex, given the progressive nature of the U.S. tax system. Essentially, all working individuals, businesses, and certain other entities are required to file tax returns, with the amount of tax owed varying based on income levels, deductions, and credits.

The progressive tax system is structured so that individuals with higher earnings pay a greater portion of their income to the government, a concept aimed at fostering equity within the tax code.

Learn More From ConsumerShield

Knowing how many tax returns are filed each year leaves out part of the story. Each of these filings is a snapshot of what happened to the filer that year. Understanding how to report personal injury settlements, workers’ compensation benefits, and other non-salary income may be essential to avoid audits and other issues.

ConsumerShield has educational resources to help people understand their legal situation. We also provide free case reviews so we can connect you with a lawyer to provide legal assistance. Contact us to learn more about our services.

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Sarah Edwards


Sarah Edwards is a seasoned legal writer with more than a decade of experience.

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