(Source: IRS Data Book, 2020.) Overall, the chance of being audited was 0.6%. This means only one out of every 166 returns was audited—the lowest audit rate since 2002.
What is the chance of being audited by the IRS? The overall audit rate is extremely low, less than 1% of all tax returns get examined within a year. However, these nine items are more likely to increase your risk of being examined.
Failing to report all of your income on your tax return is a top audit trigger. That's because income that goes unreported on your tax return also goes untaxed. The IRS receives copies of your W-2 and 1099 forms and will automatically check to see that your reported income matches up.
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.
IRS accomplished over 650 thousand audits last year by jacking up its already high reliance on so called “correspondence audits” – essentially a letter from the IRS asking for documentation on a specific line item on a return. All but 100,000 of the 659,000 audits were conducted with these letters through the mail.
Poor taxpayers, or those earning less than $25,000 annually, have an audit rate of 0.69% — more than 50% higher than the overall audit rate. It also means low-income taxpayers are more likely to get audited than any other group, except Americans with incomes of more than $500,000.
Key Takeaways. Your tax returns can be audited even after you've been issued a refund. Only a small percentage of U.S. taxpayers' returns are audited each year. The IRS can audit returns for up to three prior tax years and, in some cases, go back even further.
Still, as long as your deductions are legitimate, you shouldn't have much to worry about. And, even if the IRS determines you owe additional tax, you'll have adequate time to pay it or set up a payment plan. It's pretty unlikely that you'll be targeted for an audit, but if you are, there's no need to worry.
Don't worry about dealing with the IRS in person
Most of the time, when the IRS starts a mail audit, the IRS will ask you to explain or verify something simple on your return, such as: Income you didn't report that the IRS knows about (like leaving off Form 1099 income)
Red flags may include excessive write-offs compared with income, unreported earnings, refundable tax credits and more. “My best advice is that you're only as good as your receipts,” said John Apisa, a CPA and partner at PKF O'Connor Davies LLP.
The IRS Review Process: Every Return Is Reviewed by Computer
Once the data is in the system, a computer checks the return for errors, such as mathematical errors; if none are found, the return is processed, and the IRS issues you either a refund or a balance due notice.
If the IRS finds that you were negligent in making a mistake on your tax return, then it can assess a 20% penalty on top of the tax you owe as a result of the audit. This additional penalty is intended to encourage taxpayers to take ordinary care in preparing their tax returns.
If you deliberately fail to file a tax return, pay your taxes or keep proper tax records – and have criminal charges filed against you – you can receive up to one year of jail time. Additionally, you can receive $25,000 in IRS audit fines annually for every year that you don't file.
Does the IRS Catch All Mistakes? No, the IRS probably won't catch all mistakes. But it does run tax returns through a number of processes to catch math errors and odd income and expense reporting.
If you get audited and don't have receipts or additional proofs? Well, the Internal Revenue Service may disallow your deductions for the expenses. This often leads to gross income deductions from the IRS before calculating your tax bracket.
In most cases, a Notice of Audit and Examination Scheduled will be issued. This notice is to inform you that you are being audited by the IRS, and will contain details about the particular items on your return that need review. It will also mention the records you are required to produce for review.
It may be. Sometimes the IRS will catch your missing W-2 and send you a letter letting you know about the missing information and they will correct it for you or if you have other issues on your return they may reject it. So, in the meantime, you will need to wait to see if it is processed or not.
The Short Answer: Yes. The IRS probably already knows about many of your financial accounts, and the IRS can get information on how much is there. But, in reality, the IRS rarely digs deeper into your bank and financial accounts unless you're being audited or the IRS is collecting back taxes from you.
A large tax refund in itself is not a red flag. However, if the refund is a result of fraudulent claims, such as inaccurately reporting income or claiming deductions you are not actually eligible for, then it can trigger an IRS audit.
Insurance proceeds and dividends paid either to veterans or to their beneficiaries. Interest on insurance dividends left on deposit with the Veterans Administration. Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program.
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 if you get audited and owe money? If you get audited by the IRS and owe money, you'll be notified of the additional tax that you're required to pay as well as any penalties and interest due. The correspondence that you receive from the IRS will mention a deadline by which you must pay.
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.