There’s good news for U.S. tax filers as Tax Day 2018 on April 17 draws near: With growing budget cuts and a subsequent cut in staff, the IRS has dramatically decreased the number of individuals it audits.
The number of individuals receiving tax audits from the Internal Revenue Service has reached the lowest level since 2002, after declining for the sixth year in a row, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Since 2010, the IRS has lost close to one-third of its enforcement staff. During the 2010 peak in staff, approximately 1 in 90 individuals were audited by the agency, as compared to only 1 in 160 for the fiscal year that ended Sep. 30. That amounts to an audit of only 0.62% of individual tax returns.
Beside the dramatic drop in individual audits more broadly, the audit rate appears to have declined most significantly for one group in particular: high-income households. According to IRS figures obtained by WSJ, 4.37% of households with an income of $1 million or higher were audited in 2017—less than half of the 9.55% rate in 2015.
Business audit rates also dropped, from a high of 0.71% in 2012, to just 0.44% last year. While audit rates also declined for other income groups, they were not as significant.