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TRAC report shows IRS audits of nation's largest corporations have decreased

April 12, 2010

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A new Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) report, based on data extracted from the Internal Revenue Service under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that in the face of growing federal deficits, the agency’s audits of the nation’s largest corporations have sharply dropped in the last few years.

TRAC is a data gathering, data research and data distribution organization at Syracuse University. The purpose of TRAC is to provide the American people—and institutions of oversight such as Congress, news organizations, public interest groups, businesses, scholars and lawyers—with comprehensive information about staffing, spending and enforcement activities of the federal government. 

The report notes that the decline in audits of large corporations is surprising because 1) the highest levels of misreported tax dollars per auditor hour are found among the biggest business organizations and 2) since fiscal year (FY) 2005, Congress has provided the IRS with the funds it needs to hire an increasing number of revenue agents trained to handle these very complex returns.

One key TRAC finding is that for corporations with assets of $250 million or more, the IRS in the last five years has cut back on the number of audit hours by 33 percent. In FY 2005, the returns of 43 out of 100 of these large businesses were audited. In FY 2009, the audit rate had dropped to 25 out of 100. A key outcome is that more and more of the largest corporations are not being audited at all.

The full report is available at http://trac.syr.edu/tracirs/newfindings/current.

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