Are Government Tax Collectors Increasing Audits to Help Fill Dwindling Coffers?

March 22 2010, 11:03 AM
Last month, tax receipts for Colorado's general fund were 8.6 percent short of earlier forecasts but up by 3.2 percent from the year before. In all, the state collected $315 million in revenue for the fund, according to the Denver Business Journal, decent news as the state continues to struggle with the budget. But did the state---and local governments for that matter---ramp up tax investigations to keep the money flowing? That's what Bruce Nelson, a senior tax manager with Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman and manager of tax policy under former Governor Bill Owens, suspects, saying local and state governments began clamping down harder on businesses during the recession. "I think they've tried to increase their audit coverage" since last spring, he tells The Denver Post. "We're also seeing that the auditors are much more aggressive than in the past." But officials for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Denver say nothing about their methods has changed: State tax audits are down 10 percent over the past two years. Yet Denver saw a 58 percent rise in disputes filed by taxpayers in 2009, possibly indicating that businesses are prepared to fight tax assessments in a sunken economy. As for the state of Colorado's bottom line, there's some good news: The current fiscal year is balanced, so there’s no need to make any additional cuts, reports INDenverTimes.