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IRS commissioner says to expect 46K fewer audits in 2015

Budget cuts have hit the IRS, and the agency expects to perform 46,000 fewer audits this year, according to Commissioner John Koskinen. Reduced staff is one way the agency is dealing with $346 million in cuts made by Congress last year.

Congress approved a $10.9 billion budget, about $346 million less than the previous year’s budget. It was the fifth consecutive year the IRS has absorbed budget cuts.

This year’s cut put an especially large amount of pressure on the IRS. Congress passed the spending bill three months late, which means the IRS has nine months to figure out how to make do with a smaller budget.

One way it is doing so is by allowing 1,800 tax collector jobs to disappear through attrition. Fewer agents means that thousands of tax returns that might have been audited in past years will now go through unchallenged.

Koskinen recently suggested he may order a two-day shutdown in September, putting all employees on unpaid furlough during that time to save some more money.

This may seem like good news, but these budget problems could be a big inconvenience for taxpayers. It could mean longer waiting times when calling the IRS. More seriously, refunds may take longer to arrive, and services the IRS provides to prevent identity theft could be compromised.

Also, no one should think this news means that there will be no IRS audits in 2015. Though it may not be quite as aggressive as in years past, IRS agents could still audit you, at which point you may need a tax attorney to represent you.

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