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Exam: Preparing for Heightened Tax Enforcement Under the IRS Strategic Operating Plan

Journal of Tax Practice & Procedure

On August 16, 2022, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) into law. In this article, George Hani and Robert Kovacev write that the IRA contained many wide-ranging tax provisions covering everything from energy tax credits to the corporate alternative minimum tax – and also reversed a decade-long decline in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) resources by providing $80 billion in additional funding for the agency. On April 5, 2023, the IRS issued its Strategic Operating Plan (the Plan) for implementing the IRA – which sets forth a comprehensive overhaul of IRS technology, customer service, and enforcement. A centerpiece of the Plan is a new enforcement strategy, backed by $45.6 billion in earmarked funding. Objective 3 of the Plan is titled, "Focus expanded enforcement on taxpayers with complex tax filings and high-dollar noncompliance to address the tax gap." The Plan makes clear its intended targets are large corporations, large partnerships, and high-net-worth families. Combined with the Biden administration's stated goal of avoiding any increase of audits for individual taxpayers making less than $400,000 a year, it is clear the IRS intends to devote most of the IRA funding to those targeted groups of taxpayers. The authors examine the seven enforcement initiatives set forth in the Plan. Hani and Kovacev conclude that a surge in IRS scrutiny is inevitable, and they make specific recommendations for target taxpayers to be proactive in preparing for potential IRS-led investigations.