What happens when the IRS audits a tax return?

Think the IRS is about to conduct an audit of your tax returns? The following basic questions and answers can help you get through the process with minimal stress.

What is the purpose of an audit? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts an audit when there is a tax discrepancy. The agency's decision to review your tax forms may be triggered by a forgotten form or simple mistake on a tax form. Although the reason behind the audit may be minor, it is wise to take the process seriously.

How do you know if an audit is a scam or the real deal? The IRS generally informs a taxpayer of an audit through a letter. The IRS generally sends the correspondence on official letterhead. The IRS does not contact a taxpayer through a phone call or email of an impending audit. Any contact made in this manner requesting additional information is most likely a scam.

If the contact is official, the agency will likely request additional information. In some cases, the agency may conduct the audit through an in-person interview. Those who are the subject of an audit are allowed representation whether the audit is conducted through a mailing or in-person interview. An attorney experienced in these matters can guide you through the audit process and better ensure your legal rights are protected.

What happens after an audit? The agency will then review the information and may determine you owe additional taxes. This can also result in additional penalties and fees.

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