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IRS Tax Audits: What are they? Why am I suspect? How can I prepare?

Updated: Mar 21

Tax forms and calculator in background with text on dark emerald square that reads: "IRS Audits: The Details You Need to Know, Subtitle: What are they? Am I Vulnerable? How can I prepare for an audit?"
Having a basic understanding of IRS Audits can save you time, money, and stress.

Overview


Chances are if you’ve been in business long enough, you have either been audited or know someone whose business has been audited. Being audited is one of the biggest fears among tax filers and one of the most misunderstood. We hope that throughout this article, you will learn some keys to calm the fear and increase your understanding of the IRS income tax audit process.


What is an IRS Tax Audit?

Simply put, tax audits are a review of individual or business tax accounts and financial information. It is the Internal Revenue Service's way of ensuring that all tax filers are accurately and appropriately filing their quarterly and year-end taxes.


The IRS audit serves two main purposes:

●     To make sure all reported tax information is correctly reported

●     To verify the accuracy of reported taxes


Am I Vulnerable to an IRS Audit?


In theory, any tax filer is vulnerable to an audit, but contrary to common beliefs, being selected for an audit does not automatically mean there is something wrong with your tax filing. Someone may also be selected for an audit through a process known as random selection (or computer screening), or as part of a related examination.


Random Selection Audits


A random selection or computer screening audit works exactly as the name suggests: a tax return is compared against a set of norms the IRS expects and any returns that fall outside those algorithms may be selected for audit.


Related Examination Audits


Similarly, sometimes the IRS will select filers for audit based on specific related categories. For example, business partners or investors you do business with who were selected for an audit may trigger an audit for you as well.

 

Here are 6 Other Reasons a Business May be Vulnerable to an IRS Audit


  1. Not Reporting ALL Income

  2. Claiming Too Many Business Deductions

  3. High Dollar Deductions

  4. Comingling Business & Personal Accounts

  5. Employee and Independent Contractor Misclassification

  6. Operating a Largely Cash Business

 

If you receive an audit request by mail from the IRS, the first thing you should do is remember not to panic but don’t ignore it. Second, it is highly important that you contact a Certified Tax Professional or Accountant to help you through the audit process.


How can I Prepare for a Tax Audit?

Your IRS audit notification will tell you whether you are required to submit to the audit process by mail review (called a correspondence audit) or by in-person interview (known as a field audit). The notification letter will also detail any additional information the IRS needs to perform the audit, these may include the following:

 

●     Financial statements

●     Bank statements

●     Expense receipts

●     Documentation to support financial statements i.e. checks, deposits, general ledger transactions, bank reconciliations

 

Your letter from the IRS will also lay out any important contact information, deadlines, and instructions pertinent to your audit.

 

Here are 5 Key Steps to Prepare for an Upcoming IRS Tax Audit:


1. Make an appointment with a Certified Tax Professional or Accountant

2. Gather all the requested information from your IRS Audit Notification Letter

3. Download the appropriate Audit Technique Guide (available on IRS.gov)

4. Ask your CPTA to help you understand WHY you are being audited

5. Be prompt and prepared. Don’t delay gathering your documents or miss your deadline.


Wrap Up & Resources for Understanding IRS Audits


Whether you’ve received notification from the IRS saying you will be audited or you are looking for information regarding how to avoid an IRS tax audit, having a Certified Tax Professional or Accountant to help you with your business quarterly and year-end filings is a smart move that can save you money, stress, and time.


If you’d like more information on how TNH Financial Services, LLC can help you with your business growth and thrive, we are happy to talk to you and answer any questions you may have. Schedule your no-obligation call today.  


IRS Tax Audit Resources



Block, H. (2017, June 14). How to Handle an IRS Audit. H&R Block. https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/irs/audits-and-tax-notices/irs-audits/


Dennis, K. (n.d.). Council Post: Tax Audit Triggers And Tips On How To Avoid Them. Forbes. Retrieved March 20, 2024, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2024/02/12/tax-audit-triggers-and-tips-on-how-to-avoid-them/?sh=47fbc95c49ce


Internal Revenue Service. (2019). IRS Audits | Internal Revenue Service. Irs.gov. https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/irs-audits Sarah Mays is a freelance writer for TNH Financial Services, LLC. She can be reached at sarah@theprintededge.com 

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