Tax Laws? What Tax Laws?

Corporations still get very gentle treatment from the IRS

According to a study released April 12 by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, government enforcement of tax laws against businesses and corporations continue to spiral downward, despite assurances from President George W. Bush and other administration officials who've claimed that corporate malfeasance is a top priority.

According to a TRAC press release, in September 2002 Bush told federal prosecutors and investigators at a conference on corporate fraud that his administration's ongoing efforts to deal with corporate scofflaws send "a clear message to every dishonest corporate leader: you will be exposed and you will be punished." Still, although corporate taxable receipts total nearly $16.5 trillion, compared to the $6.2 trillion total taxable income of individual taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service continues to spend the majority of its time auditing individual tax payers.

According to TRAC, in 2003 the IRS conducted just 2.1 audits for every 1,000 business returns, but 6.5 audits for every 1,000 individual taxpayers. TRAC also reports that criminal prosecution of tax evaders also focuses heavily on individuals; for the 15 months ending Dec. 31, 2003, only one out of every 200 prosecutions involved a corporate defendant. As a result, corporations and businesses have been able to avoid paying the lion's share of their own tax liability.

According to TRAC, in 2001 corporate receipts totaled $16.5 trillion, for which those companies claimed $16.1 trillion in deductions. For the same period, individual taxable income totaled $6.2 trillion in adjusted gross income with $2.1 trillion in deductions and exemptions. For more info, go to www.trac.syr.edu.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Transactional Records Access Center, Syracuse, Internal Revenue Service, audits

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