In March, the IRS officially rolled out a Fast Track Settlement program (FTS) for small businesses and self-employed individual taxpayers. The FTS for small businesses is in effect for businesses that file Form 1040, Schedules C, E, F or Form 2106. Moreover, it applies to small businesses with assets less than $10 million. The IRS claims that the FTS can resolve disputes "within 60 days after acceptance into the program."
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.
Every year tens of thousands of charities and non-profit organizations apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status. Charities with less than $250,000 in total assets and less than $50,000 in donations in each of the past three years are eligible to file the "streamlined application", known as Form 1023-EZ. Although the IRS approves 94 percent of these applications, many of these charities may not be fully compliant with IRS requirements.
The IRS has many tools at its disposal to enforce the collection of unpaid tax debts, among them liens, levies, and even asset seizure. Beginning in late March, the IRS, in conjunction with the State Department, will have yet other weapon in its arsenal. Very shortly, the IRS will be forwarding the State Department information regarding individuals who have substantial tax deficiencies. Upon receipt of this information, the State Department can deny a taxpayer's passport application or renewal or place other restrictions on the taxpayer's passport.
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."