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IRS targeted poorest taxpayers while millionaires went mostly unscathed in 2022: report

Published: January 9, 2023 | Print Friendly and PDF
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Source: Fox News

A study of 2022 IRS tax audit data found that a taxpayer in the lowest income bracket is five times more likely to face an audit that would a member of the highest income bracket. 

"The IRS correspondence audit process is structured to expend the least amount of resources to conduct the largest number of examinations – resulting in the lowest level of customer service to taxpayers having the greatest need for assistance," National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins said of the report during an annual report to Congress. 

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University examines internal IRS management reports each month, and the group noticed different trends by reviewing 2022 data. Most notably, the group looked at audits, particularly considering the agency relying more heavily on automatically produced letters sent to taxpayers. 

The data showed that the IRS conducted 85% of its audits through these letters, which request additional information and documentation related to specific items of interest. Overall audits dropped from 659,003 in FY 2021 to 626,204 in FY 2022 out of 164 million income tax returns filed last year. 

The rate of income tax audits for those in the lowest income bracket hit 12.7 per 1,000, compared to 2.3 per 1,000 among theose in the highest – a nearly five-fold increase. The odds of a millionaire facing an audit were around 1.1%.

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington D.C. 

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington D.C.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

This roughly matched similar numbers – 13 per 1,000, and 2.6 per 1,000, respectively – during FY 2021, but that rate nearly doubled from FY 2020, when the lowest income bracket saw 7.9 audits per 1,000. 

The TRAC report claimed that the lack of attention toward millionaires resulted from "severe budget cutbacks over the years" that forced the IRS to shift its focus to "easy marks in an era when IRS increasingly relies upon correspondence audits yet doesn’t have the resources to assist taxpayers or answer their questions." 

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