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Surprise - You Have Been Audited By The IRS

Aug 17, 2007
One of an American citizen's worst fears is an audit by the IRS. The unlucky individual who is the target of an audit begins to conjure up images of penalties, fines, levies, or worst of all, jail time. Even the most honest of taxpayers, under the scrutiny of an audit, begins to think back in their mind, "Did I calculate my return correctly?", "Did I save all my receipts for the deductions I claimed?" This is a most stressful and challenging time in a taxpayer's life. Nevertheless, before one loses sleep over the impending audit, there is a law which protects Americans in an IRS audit situation.

To be more specific, in 1998 the IRS passed the third installment of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TaBOR). The bill was passed as a byproduct of numerous complaints to Congress concerning the abusive behavior by IRS auditors. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights also requires the IRS to inform a taxpayer of his rights and what effect of the tax action the IRS is pursuing. The audit itself is traditionally thought as a meeting between an agent of the IRS and the taxpayer. However a good percentage of tax audits come in the form of a letter asking for clarification or substantiation of items on the tax return. Careful and organized record keeping usually make these types of audits resolve rather smoothly.

The IRS may choose to audit a portion of the filed return, or on some occasions an agent may request a closer examination of the entire return. If the auditor merely asks for documentation for a specific part of your return, it would be a good idea to give the auditor only that piece of information that is requested. Bringing additional documentation or information not requested could subject the taxpayer to wider scope audit, that is if something else on the return looks irregular. In other words, only bring what is requested. Do not volunteer any information to the tax auditor, and answer their questions with simple, direct answers.

Since most people are not experts at tax law, it is highly recommended that a CPA, tax lawyer, or tax advisor represent them in a meeting with the IRS. Contact the person who prepared the return. They will have specific advice on how to prepare for the audit. In most cases they can attend the audit in place of you to gather information from the field agent. This puts the taxpayer at an advantage and may buy valuable time to prepare the necessary documentation.

The audit will conclude with the IRS agent citing any irregularities noted with the return. They will then formally notify the taxpayer of any monetary adjustments that need to be made. In some cases some lucky citizens have received additional refunds after an audit. Unfortunately, in most cases, the IRS will be asking for a check. An agent's decision can be appealed to a supervisor, or the Appeals Division of the IRS. If the Appeals Division decision is still unsatisfactory, a final appeal can be made to the US Tax Court.
About the Author
Grant Segall writes about consumer and tax law for the tax oriented website Lawgister.com For tips on dealing with the IRS, wage garnishment or tax audits visit Lawgister.com - Help with Taxes
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