By John S. Kiernan, The Motley Fool
The fear of an audit is a driving force deeply ingrained in the psyche of the American taxpayer. In fact, according to the Internal Revenue Service, it’s the third-biggest reason why people pay their taxes and do so honestly, behind personal integrity and the fact that third parties already report certain income information to the feds. But is our fear ultimately warranted?
You’re far more likely to get audited than you are to win the lottery, get struck by lightning, or be attacked by a shark — that’s for sure. But still, only 1% of individual taxpayers were audited in 2013, according to IRS data — which means the hype probably exceeds the actual risk when all is said and done. That would seem to be especially true this year, as recent budget cuts, and the October 2013 government shutdown, have seriously cramped Uncle Sam’s enforcement style.
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