Georgia residents and taxpayers throughout the country could receive notices from the IRS at any point during the year. In many cases, it is merely the government reaching out to notify a taxpayer about an adjustment made to his or her return. Taxpayers have the opportunity to dispute the adjustment by sending in additional information to support his or her claim. Notices such as the CP 2000 letter could be sent because an individual forgot to claim interest income on a return.
There are a variety of reasons why the IRS may decide to audit a Georgia resident's tax return. However, most audits are triggered because something on a return seems unusual based on the income a person has reported. For instance, if a real estate investor writes off a high amount of mortgage interest, that could be suspect given that interest rates are relatively low. It is important to include dividends, interest and capital gains accrued during a given year.
One of the benefits of owning a business is the ability to take deductions for expenses that are legitimately used in an effort to produce income. Some Georgia businesses end up in the red where expenses exceed income for the particular tax period. If this occurs regularly or in an excessive amount, the attention of the IRS may be triggered. The issue that may arise is the determination of whether the enterprise is in fact a for-profit business or if it is more of a hobby, for which losses cannot be deducted.
According to ProPublica, taxpayers in Georgia who make less than $20,000 a year may face the same chance of being audited as those in the 1% of top earners. In many cases, low-income individuals face audits because they claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC audit process is automated, which makes it easier for the government to perform in a timely manner.
In 2018, only .59% of federal tax returns were audited. This was a decrease from 2017; in fact, it was the seventh straight year in which overall audit rates decreased. Taxpayers in Georgia and elsewhere who made more than $10 million also saw their audit rate decline in 2018. In that year, 6.66% of such returns were audited compared to 14.52% in 2017 and 34.69% in 2015.
In fiscal year 2018, Georgia taxpayers and others who made at least $10 million saw their audit rate fall to 6.66%. In fiscal year 2017, the audit rate for those making at least $10 million that year was 14.52%. Audit rates also dropped for those who made between $1 million and less than $10 million in fiscal year 2018. This cut in audit rates for higher earners comes after the tax code overhaul in 2017.
It is unlikely that an individual in Georgia or anywhere else will have his or her tax return selected for audit. Overall, just 0.6% of returns will face further scrutiny after they are sent to the IRS. The odds of an audit are influenced by how much money a person makes. Those who make $10 million or more have an audit rate of 14.4%, but money is not the only factor in determining whether a return will be reviewed.
Taxpayers in Georgia may fear an IRS audit as one of their worst nightmares. These detailed overviews of tax filings may leave even honest taxpayers worried. That's why filers should be aware that the agency announced that it may be changing its methods to determine which returns to audit. In testimony before Congress, the IRS Commissioner said that the agency would work to increase its focus on wealthier taxpayers. This came in response to questions from members of Congress about why people with low incomes were disproportionately targeted for audits, particularly applicants for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Georgia residents might be happy to know that their chances of being audited are fairly low. While it is still important to turn one's taxes in on time, an individual has a 1 in 160 chance of being audited. In 2010, about 1 in 90 people were audited. A tighter budget led to a smaller IRS, which means fewer audits.
Some Georgia taxpayers may be concerned about getting audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Much of the concern could be due to the significant amount of misinformation that circulates about tax audits.