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PolitiFact Wisconsin: Who gets audited more by the IRS?

Sen. Johnson: "Last year the IRS audit Americans earning less than $25,000 a year at five times the rate of other groups."
Posted at 3:12 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 18:00:19-04

You're probably hearing a lot this election year about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and who will be impacted by hiring more auditors to double-check your tax returns.

PolitiFact Wisconsin put one claim to the Truth-O-Meter

When President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act last month to address climate changes and higher taxes for big corporations, the new law also added $80 billion over 10 years to hire more IRS auditors to replace retiring workers and help reduce a backlog of 10 million unprocessed returns.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson raised concerns about who will be audited when the additional auditors are hired.

"He claimed, last year the IRS audited Americans earning less than $25,000 a year at five times the rate of other groups. So let's get our calculators out," said Greg Borowski with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

PolitiFact Wisconsin said Republicans and Democrats are using the same number to make the opposite point. Democrats, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, say the IRS agents are needed to enforce tax laws on the wealthiest Americans with more complicated tax returns.

So, what about Johnson's claim?

"Current numbers show that those with incomes under $25,000 were audited at a rate of 13 per 1,000," said Borowski. "While everyone else was audited at a rate of 2.6 per 1,000. So, Johnson is on target with the numbers."

But there's more to the numbers. PolitiFact Wisconsin says audits are not always initiated when taxes are filed - more audits are done as years pass.

Meaning it can take several years to see how many audits were performed in any given year.

"In 2016, a year for which all the numbers are in, the IRS says taxpayers who reported over $10 million of income were audited at a rate of more than 7%. Experts at the $25,000 level meanwhile, were audited at closer to 1%, " Borowski said.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rated Sen Johnson's claim Mostly True - meaning it is accurate but needs clarification.

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