However, there's always the possibility that you could face an audit, and, if you're found to have misrepresented your income, tax audit penalties can be serious. Consequences range from stiff fines to criminal charges, and you could be buried under a mountain of paperwork.
If your tax return is being audited by the IRS, there is a greater likelihood that the IRS finds errors in your return, which can result in hefty IRS audit penalties and interest. In more extreme cases, the penalties can cost you tens of thousands of dollars – or even result in jail time.
If there's one thing American taxpayers fear more than owing money to the IRS, it's being audited. But before you picture a mean, scary IRS agent busting into your home and questioning you till you break, you should know that in reality, most audits aren't actually a big deal.
Can you go to jail for an IRS audit? The short answer is no, you won't go to jail.
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.
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.
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.
The IRS doesn't assign your mail audit to one person.
In fact, if you don't respond, respond late, or respond incompletely, the IRS will likely just disallow the items it's questioning on your return and send you a tax bill – plus penalties and interest.
Fail to file their tax returns – Failing to file your tax returns can land you in jail for up to one year, for every year that you failed to file your taxes. Misrepresent their income and credits in their tax returns – Any action that you take to evade tax can land you in jail for a period of five years.
And for good reason—failing to pay your taxes can lead to hefty fines and increased financial problems. But, failing to pay your taxes won't actually put you in jail. In fact, the IRS cannot send you to jail, or file criminal charges against you, for failing to pay your taxes.
In general, no, you cannot go to jail for owing the IRS. Back taxes are a surprisingly common occurrence. In fact, according to 2018 data, 14 million Americans were behind on their taxes, with a combined value of $131 billion!
The IRS usually starts these audits within a year after you file the return, and wraps them up within three to six months. But expect a delay if you don't provide complete information or if the auditor finds issues and wants to expand the audit into other areas or years.
How far back can the IRS go to audit my return? 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.
During the audit, the IRS will analyze your return and supporting documentation to ensure that all entries are accurate. Since most audits occur after the IRS issues refunds, you will probably still receive your refund, even if the IRS selects your return for an audit.
The IRS Special Agents do not charge people with a crime. Rather, the IRS Special Agents present their findings of the investigation to their supervisor. Then, the Special Agent and the supervisor will determine whether the matter should be referred for a subject criminal investigation or be discontinued.
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.
Taxpayers may still qualify for an installment agreement if they owe more than $25,000, but a Form 433F, Collection Information Statement (CIS), is required to be completed before an installment agreement can be considered.
You cannot go to jail for making a mistake or filing your tax return incorrectly. However, if your taxes are wrong by design and you intentionally leave off items that should be included, the IRS can look at that action as fraudulent, and a criminal suit can be instituted against you.
Audits can be bad and can result in a significant tax bill. But remember – you shouldn't panic. There are different kinds of audits, some minor and some extensive, and they all follow a set of defined rules. If you know what to expect and follow a few best practices, your audit may turn out to be “not so bad.”
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.
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.
In recent years, IRS audited taxpayers with incomes below $25,000 and those with incomes of $500,000 or more at higher-than-average rates. But, audit rates have dropped for all income levels—with audit rates decreasing the most for taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more.
1. Your chances of an audit are very, very low. For the average American, the chances of being audited by the IRS are about 1 in 333. If you are in the middle- or lower-income range, and your taxes are relatively straightforward, your likelihood of an audited is even lower.
Simple Audits: For a simple audit, the cost is typically $2,000 to $3,000. A simple audit is one that does not involve a Schedule C business or rental property. It usually focuses on Schedule A items, such as unreimbursed employee expenses or charitable contributions.