Auditing Tax Returns
Most taxpayers' contacts with the IRS arise through the auditing of their tax returns. The service has been empowered by Congress to inquire about all persons who may be liable for any tax and to obtain for review the books and/or records pertinent to those taxpayers' returns. A wide-ranging audit operation is carried out in the 63 district offices by 16,078 revenue agents and 2,831 tax auditors.
In 2002 the IRS announced a new auditing policy that focuses less on wage earners—particularly those earning less than $100,000—and instead looks more closely at the very wealthy and business owners, as well as on complex business partnerships, tax shelters, and offshore accounts. A computer program helps to determine which returns have the potential for hidden or unreported income and thus merit an audit.