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Here's a surprise: The IRS audits fewer financial-services companies than any other type of big company--even though it finds nearly double the tax cheating at financial companies when it does audit them.

These are the findings released today by TRAC, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. From the report:

Key numbers:

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* Financial services corporations report about 33 percent of the total corporate income taxes from large companies

* the I.R.S. devotes only 15 percent of its corporate auditors to the financial-services industry.

The trend since 2000 has been for the IRS to devote fewer resources to this sector even as the financial-services industry grew and morphed into the fraud machine we now know it to be:

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, when the IRS does bother to audit these hedge funds, insurance companies, and investment banks, it finds more taxes are owed than when it looks at, say, car manufacturers or retail chains:

These findings mirror TRAC's widely reported (and weakly denied)

indicating that the "IRS audit rate for millionaires plummeted in the just-ended fiscal year, according to agency data."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (he is the boss of the IRS) must be laughing, like,

so

hard. One tax attorney has

to Geithner's own shaky relationship to tax honesty.

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