The number of IRS audits has decreased in each of the last five years. In 2016, only one in 143 individual taxpayers was audited. While audits are a necessary aspect of our tax system, it is safe to say most taxpayers will not lose sleep about the decreased likelihood of an audit.
In recent years, the IRS has devoted vast resources to compel taxpayers to report and pay taxes on offshore assets. As a result of these efforts, the IRS has recovered billions in unpaid taxes. Perhaps the most widely-known tool the IRS uses is the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program, or OVDP. When taxpayers submit to the OVDP, they will have to file up to eight years of amended tax returns and Foreign Bank and Financial Account (FBAR) statements, while paying taxes, interest and a penalty of 27.5%, or up to 50%, of the highest balance of these accounts.
Every tax-exempt and nonprofit organization must place a high priority on complying with applicable federal and state tax laws. The IRS devotes substantial resources examining nonprofits to ensure tax compliance. The IRS recently released its Tax Exempt and Government Entities Work Plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. In this document, the IRS discussed its priorities for FY 2017.
In recent years, the IRS has devoted increasing resources to scrutinizing the tax returns of the very rich. In fact, in a given year, the IRS audits roughly one in four taxpayers with earnings or assets in excess of $10 million. The IRS has its own team of specialists who focus on auditing high net worth individuals and their various holdings. While the IRS calls this group the Global High-Wealth Industry Group, it is known informally as "The Wealth Squad."
Facebook's current market value is estimated at $350 billion. Given its sustained success, Facebook may be in a better position than most companies to deal with the rigors of an audit. With this said, it could be facing a tax debt of many billions of dollars. In a quarterly report released last month, Facebook revealed the IRS claimed it owed between $3 billion and $5 billion. This figure does not include penalties and interest.
The IRS has devoted fewer resources to auditing business taxpayers in recent years. While this fact is cold comfort to any company that has endured or is enduring IRS scrutiny, the fact remains that the IRS has not devoted the time or personnel to business audits that it once did.
Tax Audits: Incredibly scary to a taxpayer, the bread and butter of tax lawyers. I am not ashamed to say it, audits are good for business, my business. However the recently announced estimate by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of 1 Million audits for this year, is not good, not for me and not for the taxpayer.