While the overall individual audit rates are extremely low, the odds increase significantly as your income goes up (especially if you have business income). Plus, the IRS has been lambasted for putting too much scrutiny on lower-income individuals who take refundable tax credits and ignoring wealthy taxpayers.
An audit can be triggered by something as simple as entering your social security number incorrectly or misspelling your own name. Making math errors is another trigger. Filing electronically can eliminate some of these issues.
Why the IRS audits people
The IRS conducts tax audits to minimize the “tax gap,” or the difference between what the IRS is owed and what the IRS actually receives. Sometimes an IRS audit is random, but the IRS often selects taxpayers based on suspicious activity. We're against subterfuge.
If the IRS has found you "guilty" during a tax audit, this means that you owe additional funds on top of what has already been paid as part of your previous tax return. At this point, you have the option to appeal the conclusion if you so choose.
Generally, the IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit. If we identify a substantial error, we may add additional years. We usually don't go back more than the last six years. The IRS tries to audit tax returns as soon as possible after they are filed.
When you are audited, you are given two choices: agree or disagree with the findings. If you agree, you sign and pay the taxes. If you disagree, you start an appeal process. ... If you do choose to amend a return that wasn't part of the audit, you'll need Form 1040X, Amended US Individual Income Tax Return.
If there is an anomaly, that creates a “red flag.” The IRS is more likely to eyeball your return if you claim certain tax breaks, deductions, or credit amounts that are unusually high compared to national standards; you are engaged in certain businesses; or you own foreign assets.
The IRS will only require that you provide evidence that you claimed valid business expense deductions during the audit process. Therefore, if you have lost your receipts, you only be required to recreate a history of your business expenses at that time.
In the event of civil fraud, you can be charged a penalty of up to 75% of the amount that you underpaid, which will then be added to your overdue tax bill. You must pay overdue taxes after 21 days of an audit. If you fail to do so, you will be charged an additional penalty of 0.5% per month for each month you are late.
Ignoring an IRS audit notice can result in an assessment of additional tax, penalties, and interest. If you continue to ignore subsequent IRS notices, you may lose your right to dispute the case in Tax Court, and the IRS can begin trying to collect the tax.
The key to avoiding an audit is, to be accurate, honest, and modest. Be sure your sums tally with any reported income, earned or unearned—remember, a copy of your earnings is being furnished to the IRS, as the forms say. And be sure to document your deductions and donations as if someone were going to scrutinize them.
If you are being audited, you may not need to answer questions posed by the IRS; however, if you refuse to produce your tax-related documents, you may be forced to do so in court. ... Willful underreporting is an effort to evade the correct assessment of tax.
The IRS can go back through three years' worth of returns or review up to six years if they find a serious error.
Your tax returns can be audited even after you've been issued a refund. ... The IRS can audit returns for up to three prior tax years and, in some cases, go back even further. If an audit results in increased tax liability, you may also be subject to penalties and interest.
Can the IRS audit you 2 years in a row? Yes. There is no rule preventing the IRS from auditing you two years in a row.
What happens in an audit? The IRS will review your records either by mail or through in-person interviews. Interviews can take place at the IRS office (office audit) or your home (field audit). If conducted by mail, additional information about specific items on your return may be requested.
Who's getting audited? Most audits happen to high earners. People reporting adjusted gross income (or AGI) of $10 million or more accounted for 6.66% of audits in fiscal year 2018. Taxpayers reporting an AGI of between $5 million and $10 million accounted for 4.21% of audits that same year.
As a general rule, there is a ten year statute of limitations on IRS collections. This means that the IRS can attempt to collect your unpaid taxes for up to ten years from the date they were assessed. Subject to some important exceptions, once the ten years are up, the IRS has to stop its collection efforts.
If the audit reveals that you owe money, and you have no way to pay, then the IRS will start looking into your assets. If you own your vehicle, they can seize it, sell it, and apply the funds to your tax debt.
An audit itself won't hurt your credit, but the outcome of an audit could. If you're required to pay additional taxes and fines as a result of the audit, this could throw the rest of your finances in turmoil.