Attrition at the IRS, due to budget cuts and agent retirements, has hurt the agencies ability to audit and a study finds it has meant less audits on the top 1%, which are now audited at the same rate as the poor, according to a ProPublica report.
"While the wealthy now have an open invitation to cheat, low-income taxpayers are receiving heightened scrutiny because they can be audited far more easily," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee told ProPublica. "All it takes is a letter instead of a team of investigators and lawyers.
"We have two tax systems in this country, and nothing illustrates that better than the IRS ignoring wealthy tax cheats while penalizing low-income workers over small mistakes."
Millionaires in 2018 were about 80% less likely to be audited than they were in 2011, according to IRS data, and audits of the top 1% percent were audited at a rate of 1.56% while those claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC) were audited at 1.41%, per the report.
The convergence of these numbers are directly a result of staffing and ease, according to IRS spokesman Dean Patterson in a statement.
"[EITC audits are] less burdensome for taxpayers than in-person audits as they mail in their documentation and don't have to take time out of the workday," Patterson told ProPublica. "Correspondence audits are also the most efficient use of IRS’ limited examination resources."
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