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The prospect of a tax audit

Tax audit. You only have to say the words to feel some discomfort. Sure, you prepare and pay your taxes every year, but you know you are not a tax expert. You may even hire a CPA or a tax attorney to assist with your tax planning or the preparation of your taxes. But the prospect of undergoing a tax audit by the Internal Revenue Service may be one of the more unsettling interactions you or your business may experience.

The good news is that if you have done everything properly and have all of your records in order, the audit should not be too difficult or time-consuming. If you have received a notice in the mail from the IRS, is likely that there was some error on your tax return and the IRS has either corrected it or is merely requesting information to support your numbers.

It is also important to remember, notice of an audit will always be by mail; anything via the phone or email is likely a tax scam. Should the IRS actually want to come to your home or office for an audit, you will need to prepare the documents they want to examine. If you are unsure of why they have asked for this information, you may wish to have your tax preparer or a tax attorney present.

Because you are responsible for the accuracy of all information on your tax return, even if you did not complete the form yourself, you do need to exercise caution during an audit. If you do not understand where the information came from or how items on your return were calculated, you should have your preparer available to explain them.

You want to be very careful when speaking with an IRS agent during an audit. Misstatements to a federal officer could be viewed as lying and could develop into felony criminal charges should the IRS believe you are engaging in an intentional effort to evade tax obligations. In such circumstance, you should have your tax attorney by your side to prevent inadvertent statements that could lead to serious consequences.

Source: lancasteronline.com, "Surviving an IRS audit: What to expect when Uncle Sam comes calling," PICPA, April 26, 2016

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