Estate Tax Audits Resulting in Fewer Changes, Reduced Tax

The Wall Street Journal reported today that approximately 40% of audits of 1992 estate tax returns resulted in either no change or a reduced tax. The IRS audited about 19% of all estate tax returns filed for 1992.

In many cases a reduced tax resulted from a decline in the value of property originally reported on the estate return.

Nearly 20 percent of the 1992 estate returns that were examined resulted in no change in the tax computation.

The results of the 1992 audit are being heralded as good news. Another possible interpretation, however, is this: Is it not surprising that only 20% of the 1992 estate tax returns under examination were deemed to have been filled out properly? Are the returns so complicated that only one in five can be completed without error, or is it the case that most estate tax returns are being filled out by people with little or no tax expertise? Your comments are welcome.

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