Tax Audits: Guides & Information on IRS & State Income Tax Audits
Everyone has heard the statistics about tax audits and how it is very unlikely to receive one in a given tax year, but over your lifetime it is more likely than not that you will get audited. Weather you are currently being audited, you want to prevent an audit, need help with an audit, or just want general information on an audit, you will find everything you need below.
Everyone has heard the horror stories about tax audits. These are some tips to keep in mind when you are filing your taxes or doing financial planning, in order to limit your chances of getting audited. A basic understanding of how the IRS audit process works and what they look for can significantly reduce your chances of getting audited by avoiding the common mistakes most people make and end up getting audited.
Two goals you should have when going through an audit are to minimize the financial impact of the audit and to prevent the IRS from investigating beyond the original items selected for audit. There are no clear cut formulas to an audit, an audit is more like a game filled with many different strategies. These tips can help ensure minimal financial impact of an IRS audit.
Understand how the audit process works. Know how and why tax returns are selected for an IRS audit. Once a tax return is filed it will go through a series of computer programs to check for the likelihood of errors. Depending upon what kind of errors the IRS believes you have made it will send a letter and say what kind of audit they are planning on doing. Understand basically how an audit works and what to expect after the audit has been completed.
Audit flags are another another name for for factors that increase the score your tax return gets when it is processed by the IRS computers or is reviewed manually by an IRS employee. Many of these red flags can be avoided, while other cannot. Being aware of common red flags while completing your tax return can significantly reduce your chances of an audit. If some of these red flags cannot be avoided for you remember to keep as much support for those items as you can to make your life easier if you do get audited.
The IRS has strict rules on when it can audit a tax return. Know when you can stop worrying about a tax return that you filed in the past. There are actually 3 different statutes that apply to tax returns being audited and they are based upon the severity of the “mistakes” that were made. Most of the time the IRS will only have 3 years to audit a return, but if you don’t hear from the IRS within 18 months, it is very unlikely that your return will be selected for an audit.
Statistically, the average person only has a 1% chance of getting audited. This 1% is only the average of all different income levels. Individuals that report higher income are more than twice as likely to get audited as people with lower income. Here are some statistics on IRS audits based upon income class and filing type.
The standard way for the IRS to communicate before and after a tax audit is through various IRS audit letters. Understand the various letters that the IRS will send to you, what they mean, and what actions must be taken on your part after receiving one of them. It is important these notices don’t go overlooked because most of them will require you to take action.
If the IRS audits your tax return and finds some inaccuracies, you most likely will owe taxes, along with additional penalties and interest. Find out some common IRS penalties and potential criminal charges you would be facing.
Do you need help defending against an IRS audit? Understand how we can help connect you with a tax professional to either give you audit assistance or audit representation. Using a tax professional can significantly increase your chances of getting a better outcome. Audits are stressful and time consuming. Talk with a tax professional to see how they can help you and give you piece of mind that your audit will run smoothly.