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Tips for surviving an IRS audit

You get the notice that no taxpayer wants to see: you are being audited by the IRS. This would be distressing news for anybody. It is understandable if the word "audit" conjures up visions of a long, complicated process with an expensive tax bill at the end.

Maybe this happened because of a misunderstanding or errors committed by a tax preparer years ago. Whatever the reason, if the IRS ever audits you, there are steps you can take to maximize your chances of prevailing, or at least reducing the size of the taxes you owe.

  • Find a tax attorney. The cost of hiring a lawyer who works with taxpayers going through an audit is often much lower than the amount the IRS claims is owed.
  • Get your documents in order. If your financial records are not already organized, now is the time to get them sorted out. This way, you can uncover missing papers early, and get duplicates made.
  • Answer questions, but do not volunteer anything. Be honest and courteous to the auditor, but only provide the information he or she is requesting. You do not want to risk expanding the audit by saying more than you need to.
  • Wait to file your next tax return. If you are audited sometime around April, consider filing for an extension.

Getting audited is obviously no fun, but it does not have to be the end of the world. Since every case is different, readers who are being audited should consult with a tax attorney for more detailed and personal advice.

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