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Why It May Be Getting Easier To Cheat On Your Taxes

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Why It May Be Getting Easier To Cheat On Your Taxes
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With President Donald Trump's administration having released its federal budget proposal last week, the rest of the country is similarly occupied arranging their own finances as tax season is now well underway.

The Internal Revenue Service may not be prepared for what either the president or the population at large has in store for them this year.

Fewer Agents, Fewer Audits

According to an Associated Press report, the 2017 tax season may end up being the least audited one in years. The rate of audits is already on the decline over the past six years, dropping by 16 percent to just over 1 million audits performed from 2015 to 2016.

The agency points to budget and staff cuts for the decreased stringency, in addition to the growing number of filers. Between 2010 and 2016, funding for the IRS dropped by $1 billion to $11.2 billion. These cuts have led to a substantial decrease in agency staff, with the IRS losing 17,000 employees, including 7,000 enforcement agents. In that same six-year span, the United States gained about 30 million citizens.

In the report, IRS commissioner John Koskinen estimated that these cuts have cost the government $4 billion–$8 billion a year in uncollected taxes.

The GOP Versus The IRS

For his part, Trump and the Republican members of Congress have voiced their intent to divert funding and support away from the IRS. In preliminary documents from the White House Budget Office, Trump outlined his plan to further cut the IRS's budget by another 14.1 percent to 9.65 billion in 2017.

Additionally, in their "A Better Way" tax reform blueprint, House Republicans promised to streamline the IRS, which they termed "a prime example of executive branch overreach, blatant misconduct and government waste." Their goal for the agency, as outlined in the blueprint, is for it to be more customer-focused and less opaque, technical and bureaucratic.

While the intent of these plans is to curb government spending and redundancy in the long term, the near-term consequences could mean a greater incidence of unchecked tax fraud.

Still, while the odds of slipping past an audit may be slightly lower than in previous years, the chance of receiving that personalized greeting from the IRS is no less frightening.

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