|Government budget cuts are a nuisance for Americans wanting assistance from public service officials, but this tax season, limited budgets and a shortage of personnel might ease the anxiety of tax filers who are worried they’ll get slammed with an IRS audit.
In 2013, the number of audited tax returns fell to less than 1 percent; according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, this percentage is likely to drop even further this year.
IRS Audit Resources “Strained”
An abundance of budgetary constraints have reduced IRS resources when it comes to verifying reported 2013 tax return information. Although computerized auditing tools can help with identifying minor discrepancies between reported incomes (for example, an employee reports $40,000 in received income, and his employer reports $50,000 in paid income), more complex tax return nuances require a discerning, human eye.
“We keep going after the people who look like the worst of the bad guys,” Koskinen told The Associated Press. “But there are going to be some people that we should catch, either in terms of collecting the revenue from them or prosecuting them, that we’re not going to catch.”
The AP reports that this year’s IRS audit resources will be at their lowest since the 1980s. In addition to strained manpower among auditors, IRS telephone representatives are also down, leaving 39 percent of tax filer questions unanswered or redirected to the IRS website.
What Does This Mean For You?
Hopefully, you’re not looking to cheat the IRS on your 2013 tax return, as you’ll likely be unsuccessful. Reporting entities, like employers and banks, divulge how much money you have in your accounts and how much you earned last year. The IRS then compares that information against the figures you report in your tax return.
“Anybody who’s an employee, who gets paid by an employer, has a limited ability to take risks on their tax returns,” former IRS lawyer Elizabeth Maresca told The AP. “I think people who own their own business or are self-employed have a much greater opportunity [to cheat], and I think the IRS knows that, too.”
Koskinen proposed a budget to Congress making the case that for every $1 increase in the IRS budget, the organization could collect an additional $6. This proposal has largely fallen on deaf ears.