According to new data from the IRS, there has been a 20% drop in number of audits being performed on companies with more than $250 million in assets over the past decade. As Kevin McCoy of USA Today explains, although these numbers are surprising, the data could be somewhat misleading as the total number of returns filed changes every year.
The data confirm a downward trend identified in a critical analysis this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a non-partisan research organization based at Syracuse University. The IRS provided the data to USA TODAY after questioning TRAC's conclusions.
"There's been a steady decline in IRS audits of the largest corporations," said TRAC co-director Sue Long.
The drop is significant for taxpayers — who face a midnight deadline to file their personal income tax returns — because TRAC found the IRS identified nearly $28.6 billion in tax-underreporting by the nation's largest firms in fiscal year 2009.
The IRS said audit percentages are an imperfect measure because they include tax returns filed, a changing number the agency can't control. The annual number of large corporation audits rose more than 22% in the last decade, IRS data show.