Recently we ran a news item announcing that retail behemoth Wal-Mart would be offering free 1040 EZ filing kiosks in about 3,000 of its units, via a partnership with national tax-prep firms H&R Block and Jackson-Hewitt.
My first thought was where was this convenience when I was in college or much earlier in my working career when nobody confused my W-2s with those of Lloyd Blankfein?
My second was that those who avail themselves of that service are probably fairly safe from the pleasures of an IRS audit.
The cost-efficiency of performing one from the IRS' view would hardly justify the potential reclamation of a few dollars.
Conversely, about 12.5 percent of taxpayers with incomes over $1 million were subjects of audits in fiscal 2011, a 4-percent spike from the prior year.
IRS officials said the high ratio was part of an effort to demonstrate that tax laws are applied fairly.
Those with incomes of $200,000 and higher were audited at a rate of nearly 4 percent in 2011, nearly a percentage point higher than the previous year.
Folks under 200k, like yours truly, who unless I miraculously guess right on Powerball, will never be in danger of making the Forbes 400, underwent audits at a rate of just over 1 percent.
But it wasn't just individual taxpayers who faced said higher percentage of audits.
For example, companies with assets of $250 million and higher were audited at a rate of 27.6 percent in fiscal 2011, compared to 25.3 percent in fiscal 2010.
It's hardly a secret that raising taxes on wealthy Americans will help foot the bill for the President's jobs legislation and the impetus for that will no doubt carry into the November election.
I read somewhere that an IRS representative claimed that there was no correlation between the rise in wealthy taxpayer audits and Obama's job agenda, which I will attempt to address in a minute.
Logically you could make a case for a spike in rich taxpayers audits, after all there's probably a bit higher chance of recouping some serious largesse and a wealthy taxpayer's return is no doubt more complex- and therefore at a greater liability for an error on the return.
But to dissuade anyone from connecting the dots that there's no political connection to the recent statistics and that the rise in audits stems from a sort of de facto check and balances system to ensure a level playing field and tax laws, then I'm sure I won't find it at all a coincidence if audits on wealth taxpayers rise again next year.
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