Most Audited County in Every State

April 12, 2019 by Sam Stebbins

Of all potential bureaucratic ordeals, tax audits connote a level of dread few others can match. The Internal Revenue Service processed 586.1 million tax returns between 2012 and 2015 and audited 4.5 million of them.

With a full-time staff of just 76,800, the IRS has limited capacity to ensure every American pays exactly what he or she owes. But the IRS does not choose tax returns to be audited entirely at random. Tax returns that do not match established patterns are at increased risk of an audit. And though filing by the book is the best way to avoid an audit, it is by no means a guarantee.

Americans filing taxes this year should take comfort knowing that the likelihood of being selected for an audit is low. Each year, there are about 7.7 audits for every 1,000 returns. Still, in nearly every state, there is at least one county where the likelihood of being targeted by the IRS is higher than average. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed audit rates in over 3,000 counties, county equivalents, and independent cities to determine where audits are most common in every state.

While conventional wisdom may suggest wealthier Americans are more likely to avoid paying taxes, and are therefore more likely audit candidates, the opposite appears to be true. Poverty is more common in 43 of the 50 counties on this list than it is across the state as a whole — and many of these counties rank as the poorest county in the state.

This is no coincidence. Many low-income households claim the earned income tax credit — or EITC — a program designed to ease financial hardship for the working poor. According to a 2018 report released by ProPublica, a non-profit investigative publication, EITC recipients are disproportionately targeted for audit to better ensure no one is unfairly taking advantage of the system. Further reinforcing evidence of the trend, only three counties on this list have a higher median annual household income than the median nationwide of $57,652.

Click here to see the county most likely to be audited in each state

To identify the county where you are most likely to be audited in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of audits per 1,000 tax returns in 3,142 counties, county equivalents, and independent cities. Audit rates were calculated by tax analysis website, Tax Notes, using four years of data — from 2012 to 2015. State audit rates were calculated by averaging county-level data. Median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates are five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.

Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

Alabama: Greene County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.9 (state: 8.2)
> Median household income: $20,954 (state: $46,472)
> Poverty rate: 38.8% (state: 18.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.4% (state: 24.5%)

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Alaska: Kusilvak Census Area
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.4 (state: 7.0)
> Median household income: $36,468 (state: $76,114)
> Poverty rate: 39.1% (state: 10.2%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 4.9% (state: 29.0%)

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Source: Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

Arizona: Santa Cruz County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.0 (state: 7.9)
> Median household income: $39,630 (state: $53,510)
> Poverty rate: 21.8% (state: 17.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 22.1% (state: 28.4%)

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Source: BOB WESTON / Getty Images

Arkansas: Phillips County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.2 (state: 8.1)
> Median household income: $26,652 (state: $43,813)
> Poverty rate: 33.0% (state: 18.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.3% (state: 22.0%)

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California: Imperial County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.7 (state: 8.0)
> Median household income: $44,779 (state: $67,169)
> Poverty rate: 23.8% (state: 15.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 14.3% (state: 32.6%)

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Colorado: Saguache County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.5 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $34,765 (state: $65,458)
> Poverty rate: 21.0% (state: 11.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 26.0% (state: 39.4%)

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Connecticut: Fairfield County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.2 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $89,773 (state: $73,781)
> Poverty rate: 8.8% (state: 10.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 46.5% (state: 38.4%)

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Delaware: Sussex County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.4 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $57,901 (state: $63,036)
> Poverty rate: 12.0% (state: 12.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.1% (state: 31.0%)

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Florida: Miami-Dade County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.1 (state: 8.2)
> Median household income: $46,338 (state: $50,883)
> Poverty rate: 19.0% (state: 15.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.8% (state: 28.5%)

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Georgia: Calhoun County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.8 (state: 8.4)
> Median household income: $29,617 (state: $52,977)
> Poverty rate: 32.2% (state: 16.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.4% (state: 29.9%)

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Hawaii: Hawaii County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.1 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $56,395 (state: $74,923)
> Poverty rate: 17.4% (state: 10.3%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 28.6% (state: 32.0%)

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Idaho: Butte County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.3 (state: 7.7)
> Median household income: $43,207 (state: $50,985)
> Poverty rate: 16.2% (state: 14.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.5% (state: 26.8%)

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Illinois: Alexander County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.8 (state: 7.5)
> Median household income: $31,014 (state: $61,229)
> Poverty rate: 33.4% (state: 13.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.7% (state: 33.4%)

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Indiana: Marion County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.8 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $44,869 (state: $52,182)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (state: 14.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 29.7% (state: 25.3%)

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Iowa: Ringgold County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.5 (state: 7.0)
> Median household income: $50,642 (state: $56,570)
> Poverty rate: 10.9% (state: 12.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 20.1% (state: 27.7%)

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Kansas: Sheridan County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.3 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $56,607 (state: $55,477)
> Poverty rate: 4.8% (state: 12.8%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.6% (state: 32.3%)

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Kentucky: Clay County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.9 (state: 7.7)
> Median household income: $24,596 (state: $46,535)
> Poverty rate: 39.5% (state: 18.3%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.5% (state: 23.2%)

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Louisiana: East Carroll Parish
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 11.4 (state: 8.4)
> Median household income: $20,795 (state: $46,710)
> Poverty rate: 48.2% (state: 19.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.8% (state: 23.4%)

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Maine: Washington County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.9 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $40,328 (state: $53,024)
> Poverty rate: 18.2% (state: 12.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 20.9% (state: 30.3%)

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Maryland: Baltimore
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.3 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $46,641 (state: $78,916)
> Poverty rate: 22.4% (state: 9.7%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 30.4% (state: 39.0%)

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Massachusetts: Nantucket County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.6 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $91,942 (state: $74,167)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (state: 11.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 45.1% (state: 42.1%)

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Michigan: Wayne County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.1 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $43,702 (state: $52,668)
> Poverty rate: 23.7% (state: 15.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 22.8% (state: 28.1%)

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Minnesota: Mahnomen County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.4 (state: 7.0)
> Median household income: $42,439 (state: $65,699)
> Poverty rate: 22.7% (state: 10.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.1% (state: 34.8%)

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Mississippi: Humphreys County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 11.8 (state: 8.9)
> Median household income: $26,188 (state: $42,009)
> Poverty rate: 40.5% (state: 21.5%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.6% (state: 21.3%)

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Missouri: Pemiscot County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.5 (state: 7.6)
> Median household income: $32,468 (state: $51,542)
> Poverty rate: 28.5% (state: 14.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.0% (state: 28.2%)

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Montana: Big Horn County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.6 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $47,276 (state: $50,801)
> Poverty rate: 26.8% (state: 14.4%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.6% (state: 30.7%)

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Nebraska: Greeley County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.5 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $47,218 (state: $56,675)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (state: 12.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.3% (state: 30.6%)

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Nevada: Clark County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.7 (state: 7.6)
> Median household income: $54,882 (state: $55,434)
> Poverty rate: 14.6% (state: 14.2%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.3% (state: 23.7%)

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New Hampshire: Coos County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.3 (state: 6.9)
> Median household income: $45,386 (state: $71,305)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (state: 8.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 18.3% (state: 36.0%)

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New Jersey: Essex County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.4 (state: 7.5)
> Median household income: $57,365 (state: $76,475)
> Poverty rate: 16.7% (state: 10.7%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.0% (state: 38.1%)

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New Mexico: McKinley County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.2 (state: 8.1)
> Median household income: $30,336 (state: $46,718)
> Poverty rate: 37.5% (state: 20.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 10.8% (state: 26.9%)

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New York: Bronx County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.1 (state: 7.8)
> Median household income: $36,593 (state: $62,765)
> Poverty rate: 29.7% (state: 15.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 19.4% (state: 35.3%)

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North Carolina: Edgecombe County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.3 (state: 7.9)
> Median household income: $32,929 (state: $50,320)
> Poverty rate: 24.6% (state: 16.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 11.6% (state: 29.9%)

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North Dakota: Sioux County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.5 (state: 7.0)
> Median household income: $40,795 (state: $61,285)
> Poverty rate: 37.1% (state: 11.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.3% (state: 28.9%)

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Ohio: Adams County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.0 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $36,320 (state: $52,407)
> Poverty rate: 23.8% (state: 14.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.1% (state: 27.2%)

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Oklahoma: Adair County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.4 (state: 7.8)
> Median household income: $33,366 (state: $49,767)
> Poverty rate: 30.8% (state: 16.2%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 13.6% (state: 24.8%)

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Oregon: Sherman County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.5 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $42,074 (state: $56,119)
> Poverty rate: 13.7% (state: 14.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 17.6% (state: 32.3%)

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Pennsylvania: Philadelphia County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.4 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $40,649 (state: $56,951)
> Poverty rate: 25.8% (state: 13.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.1% (state: 30.1%)

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Rhode Island: Providence County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 7.5 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $52,530 (state: $61,043)
> Poverty rate: 16.7% (state: 13.4%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 27.8% (state: 33.0%)

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South Carolina: Allendale County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.3 (state: 8.0)
> Median household income: $23,331 (state: $48,781)
> Poverty rate: 30.4% (state: 16.6%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.4% (state: 27.0%)

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South Dakota: Oglala Lakota County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 11.2 (state: 7.3)
> Median household income: $27,804 (state: $54,126)
> Poverty rate: 51.9% (state: 13.9%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 12.4% (state: 27.8%)

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Tennessee: Lake County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.3 (state: 7.9)
> Median household income: $31,993 (state: $48,708)
> Poverty rate: 29.9% (state: 16.7%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.4% (state: 26.1%)

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Texas: Starr County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 10.4 (state: 8.1)
> Median household income: $27,133 (state: $57,051)
> Poverty rate: 35.0% (state: 16.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 9.7% (state: 28.7%)

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Utah: Rich County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.0 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $52,917 (state: $65,325)
> Poverty rate: 18.0% (state: 11.0%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 22.8% (state: 32.5%)

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Vermont: Essex County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.0 (state: 7.1)
> Median household income: $38,767 (state: $57,808)
> Poverty rate: 15.5% (state: 11.4%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 14.7% (state: 36.8%)

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Virginia: Emporia city
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.6 (state: 7.5)
> Median household income: $27,426 (state: $68,766)
> Poverty rate: 30.9% (state: 11.2%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.3% (state: 37.6%)

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Washington: Garfield County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.4 (state: 7.2)
> Median household income: $51,399 (state: $66,174)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (state: 12.2%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 23.0% (state: 34.5%)

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West Virginia: McDowell County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.6 (state: 7.4)
> Median household income: $25,595 (state: $44,061)
> Poverty rate: 34.9% (state: 17.8%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 4.9% (state: 19.9%)

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Wisconsin: Menominee County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 9.2 (state: 6.9)
> Median household income: $38,080 (state: $56,759)
> Poverty rate: 35.8% (state: 12.3%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 15.9% (state: 29.0%)

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Wyoming: Niobrara County
> Audits per 1,000 tax returns: 8.8 (state: 7.1)
> Median household income: $36,793 (state: $60,938)
> Poverty rate: 14.9% (state: 11.1%)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 18.3% (state: 26.7%)

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