Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

IRS Assembles Aents to Pursue Tax Dodgers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

IRS Assembles Aents to Pursue Tax Dodgers

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service is pulling more than 2,000 agents off their normal job auditing taxpayers in order to pursue up to 10 million individuals and businesses that don't even bother filing returns.

The IRS estimates the nonlers are cheating the government of at least $7 billion a year. Commissioner Shirley D. Peterson acknowledges there is a shortrm risk of losing other revenue if the manpower shift causes the regular audit rate to drop below the current 9 taxpayers per 1,000.

"When we assign resources of this magnitude, we have no choice but to take away from some other program that also is worthwhile," Peterson said in an interview. "This problem (of nonlers) cannot be allowed to fester. It is getting worse and we simply must address it."

The shift will pay off in the long run, Peterson said, because when nonlers are caught, "part of the bargain is that they agree to stay in the system."

The IRS estimates 64 percent of nonlers are selfployed individuals who deal primarily in cash. They have been out of the system on the average for four years; most are in their peak earning years and live in affluent neighborhoods. Less than 25 percent of their total income, on average, is reported to the IRS by an employer, bank or broker.

Surprisingly, about onearter of them are due refunds.

The initiative has two aims: offering delinquents the opportunity to "get right with the government," as Peterson puts it, before the IRS calls, and getting tough with those who don't.

"Any person who comes forward voluntarily and gives us an honest and complete return, we will not recommend criminal prosecution," Peterson promises. In fact, she says, the IRS will help them fill out their returns, reconstruct records, work out installment payments and _ in some cases _ even negotiate a settlement for less than the full amount owed.

For the others _ willful, repeat nonlers who don't seize the opportunity to pay up _ the more than 2,000 additional auditors are ready. …

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