The nation’s wealthiest taxpayers have seen the biggest increase in IRS audits – and are the most likely to be audited - as the federal tax agency steps up overall enforcement, according to the Internal Revenue Service Data Book, 2010 released yesterday.
In Fiscal Year 2010 the IRS examined 1.1 percent – more than 1.5 million - of the 141 million individual income tax returns filed in calendar year 2009, but audited 18.38 percent of the returns for taxpayers at the highest tier, those with an adjusted gross income of $10 million or more. Last year the agency audited 10.6 percent of returns for the wealthiest.
Audits were up for all income levels, except for taxpayers reporting no adjusted gross income. Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $5 million to $10 million saw the percentage of audits rise to 11.55 percent in fiscal year 2010, which runs from October 1, 2009, through September 20, 2010, from 7.52 percent in fiscal year 2009.
Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $1 million to $5 million had a 6.67 change of being audited in fiscal year 2010, up from 5.35 percent in fiscal year 2009. Those with an adjusted income of $500,000 to $1 million had a 3.37 chance of being audited this year, compared with 2.77 percent last year.
“Overall, in FY 2010, individual income tax returns in higher AGI classes were more likely to be examined compared to returns in lower AGI classes,” the IRS Data Book said.
The news isn’t all bad for taxpayers subjected to an audit. According to the Data Book, more than 41,000 of them received a total of $810 million in refunds as a result.