Best way to avoid an IRS audit: preparation

An IRS audit is no fun. Some taxpayers must undergo random audits every year, but the chances of that happening to you are very small. You are much more likely to fall under the IRS’s gaze if you make one of several common mistakes. That means your best chance to avoid an IRS audit is by doing things right before you file your return this year. Here are some suggestions:

Tips to prepare

Don’t leave anything out. Missing or incomplete information on your return will trigger an audit letter automatically since the IRS gets copies of the same tax forms that you do (such as W-2s and 1099s).

Double-check your numbers. Bad math will get you audited. People often make calculation errors when they do their returns, especially if they do them without assistance. The most frequent errors occur in people’s calculations of their amount of tax due, as well as the number of exemptions and deductions they claim.

Don’t stand out. The IRS closely examines business expenses, charitable donations, and high-value itemized deductions. IRS computers reference statistical data on which amounts of these items are typical for various professions and income levels. If what you claim significantly differs from what is typical, that’s a flag for a review.

Avoid an IRS audit

Having your documentation in order and being meticulous about your record-keeping is critical. Items supporting the tax breaks you take include canceled checks, receipts, credit card and investment statements, logs for mileage and business meals, and proof of charitable donations. With proper documentation, a correspondence letter from the IRS inquiring about a particular deduction can come to a quick resolution before becoming a full-blown audit.

Remember, the average person has a less than 1% chance of being audited. If you prepare now, you can narrow your audit chances even further and rest easy after you’ve filed. As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation, please contact our RRBB advisors.


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