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Rich are tax audit targets

By Kay Bell ·
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Posted: 1 pm ET

The 2012 tax filing season has just begun, but a perennial concern is on the minds of many filers: audits.

The good news is that if you make less than $200,000, your chances of the Internal Revenue Service taking a closer look at your return is negligible.

The latest IRS data on examinations – that's what the IRS calls audits – show that the tax agency is focusing on returns reporting more money.

The IRS audited 12.5 percent of millionaires in fiscal 2011. That was a 4.5 percent increase from millionaire audits in 2010 and more than double the number of such returns the IRS examined more closely in 2009.

The news is a little better for those making just a fraction of that. Around 4 percent of taxpayers who earned $200,000 or more were audited. That was a slight increase from the previous fiscal year.

But filers who earned less than $200,000 apparently are off the IRS audit radar. Only 1 percent of taxpayers making less than $200,000 have been audited over the past five years.

Avoiding an IRS audit is no reason to turn down a raise. But at least you and I can take some comfort in knowing that our lower salaries protect us from added IRS attention.

Do you worry about an IRS audit? Have you ever passed up a tax break because you thought it might make you audit bait?

Some taxpayers find that hiring a tax pro helps them avoid mistakes that could lead to an audit. Find out about your tax professional choices in today's tax tip.

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