Steps You Need to Take If You’re Being Audited by the IRS

If you receive notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that your taxes are being audited, the clock is ticking. You’ll have time to get everything in order to make sure you comply with the audit, but it’s important to act right away so you don’t get yourself in any unnecessary trouble.

We want to walk you through some of the first steps you should take in the moments and days after you receive a notice.

Verify the accuracy of the audit notice

It’s important to remember that the IRS will notify you by mail at your last recorded address. They will not notify you by phone or email, so if you receive communication from the “IRS” through those services you should report the caller/emailer as spam. You can also reach out to the IRS yourself to double-check if a piece of mail is indeed from their offices.  

The IRS will not ask you to urgently give out personal or financial information in non-secure ways, so you should NEVER give out this information unless you’ve verified without a doubt that you are actually speaking directly to the IRS.  For more information about how the IRS contacts taxpayers and how to report scams see the IRS’ website.

Contact your attorney

Once you’ve verified that the audit is accurate, you should first contact a tax professional. You may be able to handle an audit on your own, or your return-preparer may be able to help you, but an IRS audit could put you at serious financial risk if officials determine you failed to comply or that your information is intentionally inaccurate.

The right tax attorney will know the ins and outs of an audit and can walk you through all the best steps to safeguard your financial future. You should talk to a tax professional before you commit to any meetings with the IRS. The IRS won’t always request an appointment, but if they do just make sure you can either talk to your representative first or, even better, have your representative at the meeting with you.

Gather and secure all necessary documents

This is likely to be the first piece of advice any tax professional gives you when it comes to an IRS audit. You’re going to need to validate the information you put on your tax return. These are some of the documents you may need to gather:

  • Tax documents such as your W-2, W-4, Form 1040, Form 1099, Form 1098, and others
  • Receipts of any medical expenses, donations, and other credits/deductions you claimed
  • Loan paperwork
  • Proof of expenses incurred during work outings
  • Bills that impact your tax returns

Once you have this in order it will allow you to paint a clear picture of your finances for officials during the audit.

Review your documents

If you’re being audited, you’ll likely face fewer penalties if you catch any issues or miscalculations before the IRS does. Review all your documents and your tax return to ensure you accurately represented your financial situation.

Take note of all deadlines for your audit

Once you get a better idea of the timeline the IRS needs you to comply with, take a clear note of these deadlines somewhere you can’t forget. Missing deadlines could imply guilt and increase penalties should inaccuracies be found.

You will generally have 30 days from the date of the notice to respond to the audit, but you can occasionally get an extension of this timeline if you have a valid reason. If the audit uncovers changes needed or errors on your return, you generally have between 15 and 30 days to either accept the changes to your return or dispute the changes with documentation. There are other timelines and deadlines to keep in mind, so you should work closely with the IRS and your attorney to make sure you are meeting each date.

The best way to make sure you’re prepared and able to successfully face an IRS audit is to get the right attorney by your side. Attorney Robert V. Boeshaar has extensive experience helping individuals and small businesses resolve their disputes with the IRS. Contact us today if you’ve heard from the IRS.