IRS Audits Continued Their Downward Trend in 2020

July 8, 2021

The number of tax return audits conducted by the Internal Revenue Service fell again in 2020, continuing a downward trend that has been occurring for years.

The IRS completed 509,917 audits during the last fiscal year, finding that the people and businesses audited should pay an additional $12.9 billion in extra taxes. That is down substantially from the 771,000 audits conducted during the 2019 fiscal year, audits that recommended more than $17 billion in additional taxes.

Of the more than half a million audits conducted in 2020, 10,890 were focused on tax returns worth more than $1 million. That is less than half the 24,744 audits of returns over $1 million that occurred in fiscal year 2010.

The decline in 2020 continues a trend that has been occurring for the better part of a decade. By comparison, in fiscal year 2010, there were more than 1.5 million audits conducted roughly three times as many as in 2020. Since 2010, the number of “full-time equivalent” positions at the IRS has fallen more than 20%.

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