Even if you try to avoid tax audit red flags to avoid the attention of the IRS, the fact is that around 1% of all US taxpayers will be audited each year. While the IRS will usually only audit your tax return if they think they have found a glaring mistake and can collect money/penalties from you, sometimes the simplest error can produce a letter or a visit from the tax man. But just because you are being audited doesn’t mean you have to be scared to prepare your information and present it when asked! There are three different kinds of audits, including a correspondence audit, a field audit, and an office audit, and all will have different requirements for you to fulfill depending on the circumstances. So here are some tips for what to do if you are audited by the IRS:
- Be sure to respond to their inquiry. Putting off a response (or ignoring it altogether) will only lead to more problems with them which will not go away no matter how hard you try to pretend it will. When you get a notice from the IRS, respond to it ASAP. They will appreciate it and it will give you more time to prepare any documentation you may need to provide.
- Consider hiring a tax professional or attorney to help you out. If you aren’t sure about anything the IRS is asking you about, you may be better off hiring someone who can help you through the audit.
- Get organized. Make sure all your documents are organized and that you bring everything that the IRS has asked for. Tax forms, records, receipts, etc. – bring it all but only what they requested, and make sure to bring copies to leave with the agent if so requested. Do not give them your original documents, as if they happen to lose them you are out of luck. It’s your responsibility to have everything to back up any of your claims, not theirs.
- Know the information for the tax year back and front. If your tax return was 100% honest and correct, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. But make sure to review your return and know all the information on it that you provided in the first place.
- Be professional with the IRS agent. Just because their day job involves the much-dreaded tax agency doesn’t mean they aren’t regular people too. Be nice, be courteous, be professional.
According to H&R Block, the tax returns most likely to get audited are returns with the Earned Income Credit claimed or returns filed with Schedule C, Schedule E, and returns with Form 2106. So if your tax return includes any of these forms, make sure you watch out for the 14 IRS Tax Audit Red Flags I mentioned earlier that could trigger an audit. With tax time coming up fast, now is the time to get organized and file those taxes correctly and honestly. That’s the best way to avoid an IRS tax audit!
(photo credit: alancleaver_2000)