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Calculator batteries & tax returns

March 22, 2011

IRS data show an epidemic of  “math errors” on personal income tax returns. 

During calendar year 2007  the IRS  counted “only” 3,885,505 mistakes. Yet in calendar year 2010, they counted 10,554,735.  That’s a shocking 272% increase in arithmetic mistakes. The full IRS data set can be found here: http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=207345,00.html

The IRS says math errors “include a variety of conditions such as computational errors, incorrectly transcribed values, and omitted entries identified during the processing of returns.”

Rocky wonders whether the epidemic of errors is due to the widely reported declining math skills of Americans. (“One-quarter of students at undergraduate and graduate levels believe that 1 divided by 5 = 5.”) Or perhaps it’s due to the increasing use of Turbotax (thanks to Treasury Secretary Geithner.)

[Disclosure: Rocky always changes his calculator batteries before starting his tax return, and highly recommends this practice for other law-abiding citizens. The IRS data did not disclose how many of the math mistakes identified were in favor of the government!]

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  1. LetUsHavePeace
    March 30, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    R-Man:

    The math skills may have something to do with another part of the equation – i.e. how much is in the wallet. All the best.

    S-Man

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