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Enforcement: Examinations

Section 2 of the Data Book deals with IRS examinations (audits) of returns to determine if income, expenses, and credits are being reported accurately. The IRS enforces the tax law in a number of ways; the more common methods include correspondence (examination by mail) and field (face-to-face audit) examinations. This section provides information about examinations of most types of tax returns such as income tax, estate and gift tax, employment tax, excise tax, and certain other return types. Information is also provided about examinations of tax-exempt organizations. 

Graphic on the left shows total returns filed in calendar year 2014. There were 192 million returns filed in calendar year 2014 and the IRS audited approximately 0.7 percent in fiscal year 2015.

View details (XLS). For additional graphs from this section, download the PDF of this year’s Data Book.

Highlights of the Data

  • The IRS audited a total of almost 1.4 million tax returns, approximately 0.7 percent of all returns filed in Calendar Year (CY) 2014 (Table 9a). 
  • The IRS audited 0.8 percent of all individual income tax returns filed in CY 2014, and 1.3 percent of corporation income tax returns (excluding S corporation returns) (Table 9a). 
  • IRS conducted the majority of Fiscal Year 2015 audits, 72.6 percent, via correspondence. The remaining 27.4 percent were conducted in the field (Table 9a). 
  • Of the almost 1.4 million examinations of tax returns, nearly 28,000 taxpayers did not agree with the IRS examiner’s determination, totaling to an unagreed recommended additional tax of about $7.4 billion (Table 10).

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 30-Mar-2016