A new initiative at the Internal Revenue Service aimed at cracking down on high-income taxpayers with assets abroad has only managed to audit 13 returns since it was set up a year and a half ago.

Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported Thursday that it had examined a series of monthly internal IRS reports, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The TRAC report found that the IRS’s Global High Wealth Industry Group, which IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman announced with considerable fanfare in the fall of 2009, has audited only 13 returns during the previous year and a half, as of the end of last month (see IRS Steps Up Enforcement on the Rich). Because a single taxpayer at this level frequently will file different kinds of returns, the number of individuals who so far have been targeted is almost certainly very small, TRAC added.

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