IRS audit rate lower than ever

January 15, 2020

U.S. taxpayers are half as likely to get audited by the IRS as they were a decade ago, according to IRS data. The audit rate for individuals dropped to 0.45% for fiscal year 2019, down from 0.9% in 2009.

The decline follows a sharp reduction in IRS staff over the past several years. The IRS now has fewer auditors than at any point since World War II. Some critics suggest the staff reductions have allowed billions of potential tax revenue to go uncollected.

Audit rates for taxpayers who earn more than $1 million a year fell by half from 2010-2018. The rate for lower-income and middle-class individuals declined as well, but at a slower pace.

The decline in audit rates is likely to continue, given the IRS anticipates 31% of its workforce will retire by 2024, according to its 2019 progress update.

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