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A new study, conducted by the research group Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), has shown corporate America fears the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) less than it used to. The study shows the I.R.S.’s scrutiny of the country’s biggest companies is at a twenty year low. The decrease is attributed to a collapse in audits; major corporations, defined as having assets worth over $250 million, have only a one in four chance of being audited. In 1990, there was a three in four chance these corporations would be audited.  The report also suggests the I.R.S. is shifting its attention from bigger corporations, and focusing on smaller corporations, those with assets worth less than $50 million, private partnerships and other private entities. The I.R.S. has claimed to be severely underfunded, therefore focusing on smaller companies would require less time and money to investigate. 

            On the other hand, I.R.S. officials claim the study did not take into account the basic shift in corporate America over the past few years. They say they have not reduced their scrutiny on large corporations. Instead, the I.R.S. is focusing on the private partnerships some companies use to avoid paying taxes. The I.R.S gave information to TRAC themselves, however, the agency claims TRAC misread the information.

            Last year, all corporations brought in nearly twenty-three percent of all federal income taxes paid, which is up significantly from 2001. Although the I.R.S. has shifted its focus, it is bringing in more money from all corporations through audits. The former head of the I.R.S’s large and midsize business division said the number of dollars brought in, as opposed to the type or size of the audited company or the amount of time spent on audits, might be a better indicator of how well the I.R.S. is fairing.

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