Tax season is upon us, and people seem to react to tax season with mixed feelings. Of course, if you are expecting a refund this year, then you are probably excited to file your taxes. But be honest – there is that little voice in the back of your head worrying about being audited, right? After all, people rank the experience of an IRS audit right up there with a root canal. If you want to do your best to steer clear of the worst come tax time, here are some tips for how to avoid an IRS tax audit:
Double check your work. Silly mistakes can cost you a lot of time and frustration down the road. Always go over your finished tax forms with a fine-tooth comb, especially if you prepared them using your own software. You can’t take back what you send the IRS once you hit that submit button, and just one extra zero where there’s not supposed to be one is all it takes to trigger that dreaded phone call from the IRS.
Meet your deadlines. When it comes to dealing with the IRS, you want to avoid drawing any unnecessary attention to yourself. When you file late or fail to make a payment on time, it’s like holding a big red flag up and hoping the IRS doesn’t see it.
Report everything. The IRS cross-references everything, so don’t leave anything out – no matter how insignificant it may seem. For example, that ten dollar interest amount you earned on your small savings account may not mean a lot to you . . . but it’s certainly not worth an IRS audit, is it?
Overshooting your deductibles. Only claim what you can legally claim, and be completely honest. The deductibles portion of your tax returns is one of the most likely areas you can expect the IRS to scrutinize. If anything looks off, or even slightly questionable, you are in danger of being audited.
Keep records. If you are going to claim something – anything, from income to expenses to deductibles – keep records of it. Invest in a small file folder and maintain your receipts and records throughout the year in order to make an easy job of it. That way, you can be sure that you are filing correctly when you send in your returns, and you can rest assured that you did everything within your power to avoid an audit.
There is no guarantee that you won’t be audited by the IRS. It is possible to everything the “right” way only to come under investigation, while others seem to slide under the radar. What you can do is set your mind at ease that an audit is as unlikely as possible, and these tips should help you do just that.
About the Author: Francine Ersery is an accountant in the windy city and often has to help her clients sort through audit issues. When she’s not working she can often be found looking at Chicago daily offers for hot deals and weekend entertainment opportunities.