Middle-class Americans, listen up: the I.R.S. is much more likely to audit you this year. Those caught cheating can expect to pay about $4,100 more on average in income taxes.
Since 2000, authorities at the Internal Revenue Service have nearly tripled audits of tax returns filed by people making $25,000 to $100,000 as part of a broad change in audit strategy.
Audits of these middle-class taxpayers rose to nearly 436,000 last year, up from about 147,000 returns in 2000. For these 61 million individuals and married couples, who make up nearly half of all taxpayers, the odds of being audited rose from 1 in 377 to 1 in 140.
Kevin Brown, the I.R.S. deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, said the audits “were out of whack” in 2000, with far too little attention paid to the middle class and to the very highest income generators, those making $1 million or more. “We try to run a balanced audit program,” Mr. Brown said.