It’s hard to think of a bright side to federal budget cuts that have left agencies strapped for cash, particularly this tax season as millions of phone calls to the IRS seeking help on tax returns went unanswered. However, for some taxpayers the understaffed Internal Revenue Service means that they have a lower risk of being audited this year.

In fact, experts predict that audits will be at their lowest levels since the 1980s. A spokesperson from the IRS said that they will continue to zealously pursue the most blatant offenders and people attempting serious tax evasion. Still, he admitted that some people who should be held accountable for unpaid taxes may not hear from the IRS this year.

Some mistakes or omissions will be easier to detect than others, such as disparities between what a person reports as their income and what an employer reports. Those types of issues can be caught by a computer program and the audit process can begin automatically.

One group of taxpayers faces a much lower audit risk than ever before – those who do most of their business in cash. For small businesses or independent contractors who work mostly in cash and do not have their income independently reported to the IRS, the odds of being audited are quite low since discrepancies are hard to track.

Now that the tax season is over (hopefully) for most Georgia readers, this can be a good time to start doing some savvy tax planning for next year. This might mean restructuring a business to get better tax benefits or it might involve more complicated compliance issues.

Source: CBS News, “Chances of IRS tax audit are lowest in years,” April 13, 2014.