Newsletters

Werfel Says 2018 Is Benchmark Year for Audit Rates

The Internal Revenue Service will use 2018 as the benchmark year for determining audit rates as it plans to increase enforcement for those individuals and businesses making more than $400,000 per year.

The agency is “going to be focused completely on … closing the gap,” IRS Commissioner Daniel said April 27, 2023, during a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee. “What that means is the auditrate, the most recent auditrate, we have that’s complete and final is 2018. That is the rate that I want to share with the American people. The auditrate will not go above that rate for years to come because for the next several years, at least, we’re going to be focused on work that we’re doing with the highest income filers.”

Werfel added that even if the IRS were to expand its audit footprint a few years from now, “you’re still not going to get anywhere near that historical average for quite some time. So, I think there can be assurances to the American people that if you earn under $400,000, there’s no new wave of audits coming. The probability of you being audited before the Inflation Reduction Act and after the Inflation Reduction Act are not changed at all.”

He also noted that many of the new hires that will be brought in to handle enforcement will focus on the wealthiest individuals and businesses. Werfel said that there currently are only 2,600 employees that cover filings of the wealthiest 390,000 filers and that is where many of the enforcement hires will be used.

“We have to up our game if we’re going to effectively assess whether these organizations are paying what they owe,” he testified. “So, it’s about hiring. It’s about training. And it’s not just hiring auditors, it’s about hiring economists, scientists, engineers. And when I [say] scientists, I mean data scientists to truly help us strategically figure out where the gaps are so we can close those gaps.”

Werfel did sidestep a question about the potential need for actually increasing the number of audits for those making under $400,000. When asked about a Joint Committee on Taxation report that found that more than 90 percent of unreported income actually came from taxpayers earning less than $400,000, he responded that “there is a lot of mounting evidence that there is significant underreporting or tax gap in the highest income filers. For example, there’s a study that was done by the U.S. Treasury Department that looked at the top one percent of Americans and found that as much as $163 billion of tax dodging, roughly.”

And while answering the questions on the need for more personnel to handle the audits of the wealthy, he did acknowledge that “a big driver” of needing such a large workforce to handle the filings of wealthy taxpayers is due to the complexity of the tax code, in addition to a growing population, a growing economy, and an increasing number of wealthy taxpayers.

Other Topics Covered

Werfel’s testimony covered a wide range of topics, from the size and role of the personnel to be hired to the offering of service that has the IRS fill out tax forms for filers to technology and security upgrade, similar to a round of questions the agency commissioner faced before the Senate Finance Committee in a hearing a week earlier.

He reiterated that a study is expected to arrive mid-May that will report on the feasibility of the IRS offering a service to fill out tax forms for taxpayers. Werfel stressed that if such a service were to be offered, it would be strictly optional and there would be no plans to make using such a service mandatory.

“Our hope and our vision [is] that we will meet taxpayers where they are,” he testified. “If they want to file on paper, we’re not thrilled with it, but we’ll be ready for it. If they want the fully digital experience, if they want to work with a third-party servicer, we want to accommodate that.”

Werfel also reiterated a commitment to examine the use of cloud computing as a way to modernize the IRS’s information technology infrastructure.

And he also continued his call for an increase in annual appropriations to compliment the funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act. He testified that modernization funds were “raided” so that phones could be answered and to prevent service levels from declining while still being able to modernize the agency, more annual funds will need to be appropriated.

By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor

FL - Gas and Sulfur production tax rates for 2024-2025 announced

Florida has issued the severance tax rates for the production of gas and sulfur effective July 1, 2024, through June […]

Read More
FL - Gas and Sulfur production tax rates for 2024-2025 announced

No Further Funding Cuts For IRS In FY24

Other than a planned repurposing of Inflation Reduction Act supplemental funding, the Internal Revenue Service saw no other cuts as the President signed off on the resolution […]

Read More
No Further Funding Cuts For IRS In FY24

IRS Criminal Investigation Releases COVID Fraud Conviction Statistics, IR-2024-83

The IRS released statistics that showed 1,644 tax and money-laundering cases related to COVID fraud, totaling $9 billion investigated by the Criminal Investigation (CI). CI is the law enforcement […]

Read More
IRS Criminal Investigation Releases COVID Fraud Conviction Statistics, IR-2024-83

IRS Updates FAQ on Commercial Clean Vehicle Credits (FS-2024-14; IR-2024-111)

The IRS updated frequently asked questions (FAQ) on New, Previously Owned and Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicle Credits. These FAQs provide guidance on how the Inflation Reduction […]

Read More
IRS Updates FAQ on Commercial Clean Vehicle Credits (FS-2024-14; IR-2024-111)

2024 Foreign Housing Expense Amounts Released, Notice 2024-31

KPMG TaxNewsFlash – United States March 20, 2024 The IRS today released Notice 2024-31 [PDF 156 KB] providing the adjustments to the limitation on housing expenses, under […]

Read More
2024 Foreign Housing Expense Amounts Released, Notice 2024-31

Energy Efficient Property and Improvement Rebate Guidance Issued, Announcement 2024-19; IR-2024-97

The IRS has issued an announcement that addresses the federal income tax treatment of amounts paid for the purchase of energy efficient property and improvements. Taxpayers who […]

Read More
Energy Efficient Property and Improvement Rebate Guidance Issued, Announcement 2024-19; IR-2024-97

IRS Releases Major Filing Numbers Showing Service Improvements, IR-2024-109

Reflecting on the 2024 tax filing season, the IRS released major filing numbers for the season. The agency highlighted a variety of improvements that dramatically expanded service for millions of taxpayers during […]

Read More
IRS Releases Major Filing Numbers Showing Service Improvements, IR-2024-109

IRS Wraps Up Dirty Dozen, Warns of Bogus Tax Avoidance Strategies (IR-2024-105)

The IRS has wrapped up the 2024 Dirty Dozen campaign, with a warning to taxpayers to beware of promoters selling bogus tax avoidance strategies. Promoters have been peddling elaborate bogus schemes to […]

Read More
IRS Wraps Up Dirty Dozen, Warns of Bogus Tax Avoidance Strategies (IR-2024-105)

FL - Tax rate on commercial rentals reduced from 4.5% to 2% effective june 1, 2024

Effective June 1, 2024, the Florida sales tax rate imposed on the total rent charged for renting, leasing, letting, or […]

Read More
FL - Tax rate on commercial rentals reduced from 4.5% to 2% effective june 1, 2024

FL - Solid mineral tax rates for 2024 announced

Florida has released the severance tax rates on the production of heavy minerals and other solid minerals for 2024. From […]

Read More
FL - Solid mineral tax rates for 2024 announced