If you usually receive a refund, you may not mind filing your federal income tax return at the beginning of every year. Still, the process may not conclude on April 15. On the contrary, you may receive an audit notice, requiring you to address agency concerns.
Not all Americans have a tax obligation. In fact, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center notes that 76.4 million Americans had either a zero or negative tax bill in 2018. If you do not fall into that group, though, you likely want your tax filing to be incident-free. Unfortunately, your odds of an audit seem to change based on which county you call home.
Residents in poorer counties have more audits
The nonprofit news service ProPublica recently published a survey of tax audit locations. The survey presents some interesting findings. Specifically, it reveals that taxpayers who live in poorer counties often receive a greater number of tax audits.
In Telfair County, Georgia’s poorest, the IRS audited 9.6 out of every 1,000 tax filings. This number is roughly 20% higher than the national average. By contrast, residents of Georgia’s wealthier counties experienced a lower audit rate. For example, in Forsyth County, where the median household income is more than $96,000, the IRS audited only 7.5 out of every 1000 tax filings.
Audits should be both fair and impartial
The IRS should be fair and impartial when selecting tax returns to audit. Nonetheless, certain factors seem to increase a taxpayer’s chances of going through a review. Taking some personal and business deductions, for example, may raise red flags to IRS auditors. As such, you must prepare your filing both carefully and legally.
In response to the ProPublica report, an IRS spokesperson indicated that the agency does not use place of residence as a criterion for tax audits. Nonetheless, if you live in a poorer county in Georgia, you seem to have a greater chance of receiving an audit notice.