Friday, March 11, 2011

What To Do If You Are Audited

Every year during tax time someone gets audited and we all hope it's now us. If you have never gotten audited you are lucky. However, if you get a letter from the IRS notifying you that you will be audited don’t panic. Stay calm. All audits are not bad and may not result in you owing money.

If you prepare your taxes yourself with tax preparation software like Tax Cut or Turbo Tax the software provides audit checks on your return before sending them to the IRS and alerts you about possible items that could trigger an audit. If you go to a tax preparation company find out what the process is if a customer is audited. Here are 7 tips to handle an IRS audit.

1. Notice. If you receive a notice in the mail from the IRS stating that you will be audited read the notice carefully to fully understand what is required. An audit can be for one year or for multiple years. An audit can simply be resolved by sending documentation via postal mail or may require a meeting with an IRS agent.

2. Act Promptly. You must act promptly when you receive an audit notice to ensure your chances of the audit going smoothly. Gather all of your financial statements including canceled checks, bank statements, 401K statements, charity donations, credit card statements, monthly debt statements, taxes for the past 3 years, W-2’s/W-4’s, previous tax refund statements, your 1098 statements if you are a homeowner, etc. If you do not have a copy of past tax returns complete a Form 4506 to request an official copy.

3. Document. Make a list of all documents that you currently have in your possession that are required in the audit letter. Make a list of all documents that you don’t have and the status of obtaining those documents, i.e. you requested a copy with an estimated receipt date, you will request a copy or you are unable to get a copy.

4. Professional Assistance. Contact a tax accountant or tax lawyer to get advice on how to prepare for the tax audit and how they can help you successfully get through the audit including fees, services provided, years of experience, worse cast scenario, etc.

5. Response. If you are required to respond by mail, work with a tax lawyer or tax accountant to ensure you have all the required documentation. Send copies of all required documentation and responses to any questions via certified mail and return receipt. If you are required to respond in person, you can attend the meeting with your tax lawyer or tax accountant or they can represent you on your behalf. I recommend you attend the meeting with your tax lawyer or tax accountant to ensure you fully understand the information provided and to minimize chances of misunderstanding the information presented.

6. Resolution. After the audit the IRS may require you to pay additional money or you may receive a refund. If you have to pay work with your tax lawyer or tax accountant to setup a payment plan.

7. Dispute. If you are not happy with the findings of the audit, you can appeal the findings to the IRS agent’s supervisor or the IRS Appeal Division. You also have the option of taking your case to your state tax clinic or filing a petition with the U.S. Tax Court.


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That is an interesting approach, I'll look into it more. I had only been considering it as an ammendment, but now you've given me some more ideas. Thanks!

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