The IRS says audits are about to surge — here’s who’s most at risk

The Internal Revenue Service said it plans to sharply increase audit rates for big corporations, partnerships and multimillionaires over the next three years after a massive boost in funding by the Biden administration.

The IRS said in a news release Thursday that it’s aiming to nearly triple its audit rate, to 22.6%, on corporations with upwards of $250 million worth of assets in the 2026 tax year.

The figure marks a steep rise from the 8.8% that were audited in 2019.

The IRS said Thursday that businesses with more than $250 million worth of assets and millionaires whose annual income exceeds $10 million will face a much higher risk of being audited in the 2026 tax year. AP

For complex partnerships with assets topping $10 million, the IRS said it intends to increase audit rates nearly 10-fold, to 1% in tax year 2026 — up from 0.1% in 2019.

The IRS also said it is targeting a 50% increase in audit rates for individuals with a total positive annual income exceeding $10 million.

By the 2026 tax year, 16.5% of these wealthy individuals will be subject to an audit — up from 11% in 2019.

At the same time, the IRS assured that it would not increase audit rates on individuals and small businesses earning under $400,000, in keeping with President Biden’s pledge not to increase taxes on that population.

The federal agency was bolstered by $80 billion in new funding directed by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which Biden signed into law in 2022.

When the IRS conducts an audit, individuals or heads of businesses must meet with an auditor, who then reviews that a federal tax return was filed correctly. The official may ask for additional documentation to support the claims like reductions and credits cited in the return.

In an audit, the IRS will ensure that a business or individual’s federal tax return can be supported by additional documentation. Failure to do so can result in civil penalty charges and even jail time. AP

If there’s discrepancies, consequences can include tax evasion charges, which carry a civil fraud penalty of 75% of the understated tax and in the worst cases, the possibility of jail time.

The forthcoming changes were outlined as part of the IRS’s update on its so-called “strategic operating plan” in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, which vowed to modernize the IRS’s antiquated computer systems, improve taxpayer services and ramp up enforcement to close the “tax gap” between taxes owed and those collected.

Some $7.25 billion of those funds will be spent in fiscal 2024, the IRS said Thursday, which marks an increase from the $3.4 billion spent in fiscal 2023.

The IRS announced the crackdown as part of its update on its $60 billion in funding thus far relating to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which has plans to spend an estimated $7 trillion more over the next decade. AP

The agency’s initial strategic operating plan called for fiscal 2024 spending at $5.8 billion.

“The changes outlined in this report are a stark contrast to the years of under-funding that deteriorated taxpayer service and tax enforcement, frustrating taxpayers, the tax community and IRS employees alike,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement.

Republicans have railed against the IRS audits as harassment of Americans over their taxes and have successfully chipped away at the funding. A top-line spending deal is set to cut the funding by $20 billion this year.

The IRS said it hired 13,661 people in fiscal 2023 using Inflation Reduction Act funds, including 10,518 taxpayer services staff and 495 enforcement staff. It plans to increase these hires to 16,314 in fiscal 2024, including 4,088 enforcement staff.

The report showed that the hiring would support a total IRS workforce of about 93,000, by 2028, up from 88,411 estimated for fiscal 2024. That would be somewhat short of Werfel’s goal for an IRS workforce of more than 100,000 within the next three years.

With Post wires

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