Audits by the Internal Revenue Service in 2017 and 2019 were not conducted to target specific individuals, according to a new report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
The report, dated November 29, 2022, but released December 1, found that “key decisions and information related to the tax return selection process for Tax Years 2017 and 2019 were determined prior to the start of each year’s respective filing season and prior to the selection of any returns,” the Treasury watchdog said in a statement. “TIGTA also confirmed that the computer program used to select tax returns worked as designed and di not included any malicious code that would force the selection of specific taxpayers for an NRP [National Research Program] audit.”
TIGTA conducted the analysis of the audit selection process following a July 2022 media report that suggested the selection for those tax years may not have been random. To answer the allegations, TIGTA hired a contractor that, according to the report, “replicated the process. Specifically, the contractor replicated each week’s original sample selection file through April 2018 and July 2020 for TYs 2017 and 2019, respectively.”
Once replicated, a return-by-return comparison of the replicated files and the original sample selection was conducted to verify the files matched.
“They concluded that the tax returns in the original samples were the same tax returns selected when the process was replicated using the respective seed numbers,” the report states. “TIGTA also compared the contractor’s replicated weekly output files to the original weekly output files, and same as the IRS, TIGTA determined they matched.”
The report noted that a line-by-line review of the original source code was conducted “to determine whether information (i.e., TIN) was improperly coded in the program that would result in a specific taxpayer being selected for an NRP audit. The contractor concluded that no specific taxpayer information was included in the original source code.”