Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 29, 2019. Credit: Carolyn Kaster | AP

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine said he’s upset by a report that found lower-income counties, including two in Maine, are subject to more tax audits by the IRS.

Piscataquis and Washington counties have median incomes below most of the nation and the rest of the state. But, according to a study published in a trade publication, they have been targeted for IRS audits.

King said the reason, it appears, is that so many residents there qualify for the federal earned income tax credit designed to help working poor families. He said it’s outrageous for the working poor to be targeted for more audits than wealthier taxpayers.

“These are people that make $20,000 a year, they are not people that have accountants and lawyers, and tax accountants. Pine Tree Legal is one of their only resources,” he said.

King said compliance audits should be random and has written to the IRS complaining about its policy.

“My feeling is we got finite resources in the Internal Revenue Service, and they should be focused on places where much larger-scale problems are occurring. Now, that doesn’t mean anybody should get away with cheating on their taxes,” he said.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.