What if You Get Audited by the IRS?

Debbie Loper |

As the saying goes, there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. On the former, there is not much you can do to make the experience more enjoyable than live a good life. As far as the latter is concerned, the process is rarely painful unless you find your return under audit by the IRS. The Tax Foundation notes that the IRS audited the returns of some 1.2 million American households in 2015, but that does not necessarily mean you are likely to face an audit yourself. Kiplinger is quick to point out, however, that the odds of a return are slim for most Americans. Typically, the higher your income is, the more likely you will be audited. If you are worried, Kiplinger even has a calculator to estimate the odds your return will be audited. For those who have received a notice, or are concerned they might, we offer a rundown of what to do when you are audited by the IRS.


Get Organized

After you receive that dreaded notification in the mail that your return is under audit, take your time to get organized before reacting to the notification. As a side note, the IRS will never call, text, or email you to inform you that your return is undergoing an audit. The IRS will only ever send out an audit notification on an official letterhead. If you have received that letter, gather all the records you used to prepare your tax return and deal with them appropriately in the face of your audit.

For a correspondence audit, you will need to mail in copies of necessary documents to the IRS. If you have received a field audit, typical for business, or in-office audit, individual or business, you can simply bring those documents with you to the meeting. One crucial factor to keep in mind is this: only bring relevant documents. The IRS is typically focused on one aspect of your return, so bring only the documents needed to reassess that area of focus. Never give the auditor more information than requested.

Finally, from an organizational standpoint, make copies of all your documents in question. Keep the original copies of your documents for personal filing and provide the IRS with copies of the requested documents. On top of that, make a list of everything you submit to the IRS.


Stay Calm in the Interview, and Be Smart

Many people have a doom-and-gloom vision of the interview process. Like any other face-to-face sit down, there will be nerves. Try to remain calm and answer only the questions asked by the auditor. Keep your answers succinct and be honest, yet brief, with your answers. If you are not sure how to answer a question, make a note of it and offer to consider it further and provide clarification at a later time.

Most important of all, keep your wits about you. The comments you make the auditor give them information about you, and there is no need to become combative, argumentative, or stubborn. Answer the questions put forth to you to the best of your ability. Doing any more could make the audit process worse.


If you have received a letter of audit from the IRS or believe your return could fall under further review, feel free to contact a professional for assistance at Hughes Warren in preparation for an audit.