If the IRS audits your tax return, the IRS is taking a close look at your return to see whether you included all your income, and took only the deductions and credits you were allowed by law. IRS audits usually aren't random. The IRS selects returns that are the most likely have errors, based on complex criteria.
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.
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.
The IRS can apply an additional percentage to the amount of taxes you owe them: 20% or 40% penalty: If you made a mistake on your tax return, you could face a 20% or 40% penalty, depending on how severe the error is. 75% penalty: This is reserved for more serious cases, like fraud.
Certain types of deductions have long been thought to be hot buttons for the IRS, especially auto, travel, and meal expenses. Casualty losses and bad debt deductions might also increase your audit chances. Businesses that show losses are more likely to be audited, especially if the losses are recurring.
Audit trends vary by taxpayer income. 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.
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.
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.
The good news is, there's a limit to how bad an audit can get. Sure, it's rough to fail an IRS audit. And paying the bill they'll probably stick you with is going to hurt. But unless you're refusing to pay taxes or purposefully trying to defraud the government, you won't be facing jail time.
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.
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.
Report Suspected Tax Law Violations
Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral online if you suspect an individual or a business is not complying with the tax laws. We don't take tax law violation referrals over the phone. We will keep your identity confidential when you file a tax fraud report.
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.
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.
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 most common reason for the IRS to review a tax return is something called the Discriminant Function System (or DIF) score. The IRS uses a computerized scoring model that evaluates your return and gives it a score based on the likelihood that it will need to be changed.
If the IRS has shortlisted you for an audit, then you will be informed of this through a written notification that will be sent to your last recorded address. The IRS usually doesn't notify you of an audit via phone or email, so be wary of any email that claims to be about an IRS audit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Practical answer: 26 months. The practical answer lies in a procedural policy at the IRS called the “examination cycle.” The Internal Revenue Manual (basically, the IRS training guide) says that IRS agents must open and close an audit within 26 months after the return was filed or due (whichever is later).