| WASHINGTON, April 9
WASHINGTON, April 9 U.S. tax collectors plan to
put 18 percent less staff time into scrutinizing the books of
the biggest U.S. companies this year compared with the last two
years, say internal documents obtained by a non-partisan
The Internal Revenue Service data apply to businesses with
assets above $10 million for the 2013 fiscal year ending
September 30, according to an IRS plan that the Transactional
Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) released on Tuesday.
Less IRS time analyzing corporate accounts could mean
greater tax evasion, the watchdog said.
The research group based at Syracuse University in New York
State obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act
request that the IRS fought in court and lost.
IRS spokesman Anthony Burke said that large corporate audits
are still high by historical standards, noting that 17 percent
of such companies faced tax audits in fiscal year 2012. But he
said the agency was constrained by tight fiscal times.
The number of fulltime IRS employees fell by almost 7,000
between the end of 2010 and 2012 while its budget is down about
$1 billion, or 8 percent, since 2010.
"The IRS will remain focused on this area in 2013 during a
challenging budget period," Burke said.
The new audit figures do not take into account the sequester
- the automatic across-the-board spending cuts to many federal
programs that went into effect last month.
"The fact that audits are down potentially means less
compliance, which is going to produce very difficult choices in
the year ahead," said David Burnham, the co-director at TRAC.
According to the document, the agency plans to spend 27
percent less staff time on auditing the biggest publicly traded
companies this year, compared with two years ago, and 17 percent
less in auditing partnerships which include law firms and
private equity firms.
FEDERAL TAX ENFORCEMENT
Separately, the Justice Department's tax division touted its
95 percent win rate in civil and criminal tax cases, timed with
the April 15 filing deadline for 2012 taxes.
The division, which prosecutes tax matters in concert with
the IRS, did not give a year-ago comparison figure.
Among the most high profile of the big cases the government
is pursuing are offshore tax evasion cases.
Since a 2009 landmark case against Swiss banking giant UBS
AG, the government has been pursuing banks, bankers
and U.S. citizens stashing income abroad in Israel, India and
U.S. Assistant Attorney General for tax Kathryn Keneally
said the agency was aggressively moving into new countries but
she would only say "all," when asked to be specific.
"If anyone is waiting for a news announcement, that they are
finally onto my country, by that time will be too late,"