Few things strike more fear into a taxpayer’s heart that the words “IRS audit.” It is natural to worry.
However, if you prepare yourself, it should be possible to get through this process without major difficulties. After you calm down, take steps that assure you get fair treatment during a review of your tax returns.
How the auditing process starts
First, it is important to know that the IRS will never contact you by telephone, email or text to open an audit. Nor will the agency make a demand to collect taxes from you. These contacts are scams that the IRS says you should ignore and report.
The bad news is that if you receive a letter from the IRS on official letterhead, the audit is for real. The letter will tell you the return(s) that are being audited and the information that the agency is seeking from you. These can include bank records, and proof of deductions and expenses.
How to handle the audit
Prepare yourself by organizing your financial documentation. Collect any records that went into preparing the tax return(s) in question. Give the auditor only the requested information. More information gives the IRS more reason to investigate.
During the audit interview, be brief and honest with your answers. Do not offer any extra information, which could lead to more questions. If you cannot answer a question, tell the agent that you will find the information and pass it along.
Keep in mind that the auditor is a professional doing his or her job. Do not make casual conversation in hopes of making a favorable impression. That is not why either of you is there.
How to protect your future
Provide the IRS with information in a straightforward manner. Otherwise, you may raise an agent’s suspicions and cause him or her to look deeper into your returns.
Remain cool, calm and respectful during your interview. Do not give the agent any reason to believe that you have anything to hide.