When you think about paying your taxes and filing your returns, most people don’t ever really consider themselves someone who could get audited by the IRS. For whatever reason, we all have it in our heads that audits are only for certain kinds of people and that if we do everything “right,” then there’s no chance of getting that dreaded audit notice in the mail. However, the truth is that audits are much more common than people think and dealing with the IRS doesn’t have to be as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Below we discuss some of the most common mistaken beliefs surrounding IRS audits.
1. Audits are only for businesses and the rich.
One of the most popular myths is that only businesses and rich people are at risk of an audit. Although it might make it more likely if you have a higher income and more assets, the truth is that any taxpayer can get audited any year. In fact, those with smaller businesses actually run a higher risk of getting audited because they tend to be more likely to have mistakes in their returns.
2. The IRS is trying to make things tough for taxpayers.
Another mistake people make when thinking about IRS audits is that the IRS is out to get them. Although in some ways this is true, it’s not true in the sense that they have a sinister motive of making your life more difficult. The purpose of an audit is so the IRS can make sure that it has all of the correct information on file. It follows that, if in the course of trying to resolve issues and collecting all the data they need the IRS uncovers something else (…something illegal) then they of course must act on the information found. Otherwise, if you’ve just made an honest mistake, the IRS wants to help correct it, not ruin your life.
3. Working with a professional prevents my chances of being audited.
Although working with a tax professional can increase your chances of filing your returns properly and in compliance with tax laws, it certainly does not preclude you from being audited. For instance, some people get flagged for audit as part of the IRS’s routine compliance procedures and not because an actual mistake was made. However, working with a professional is still your best chance for avoiding mistakes, and all the IRS really wants to do is make sure they have collected the correct information from every taxpayer.
4. Once the IRS has accepted your return, you’re no longer at risk.
Again, this is another situation that lures taxpayers into a false sense of security. The IRS has to issue your refund within 45 days after Tax Day or they are responsible for paying interest on the amount of your return. To avoid this, they could issue the refund and then still begin an audit afterwards.
Contact Tanika Finney
At the Law Office of Tanika L. Finney, we regularly help clients deal with all manner of tax controversies. We can help you navigate the complex process of an IRS audit and help make things easier for you. If you have questions about a notice you received from the IRS, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.