A tax audit is a stressful experience that most everyone hopes to avoid. An audit is an examination of a business or individual’s tax returns and financial information. It is the IRS making sure that you have correctly reported everything you say you have according to tax laws.
During a tax audit, you can opt to have tax audit representation, also called audit defense. It is a service in which a tax or legal professional stands in on behalf of a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity) during an IRS or state income tax audit.
During an income tax audit or examination, the IRS and all states allow a taxpayer to have an authorized representative. The representative must have permission to practice before the IRS or state, and specific credentials are required. The types of representatives who are allowed to represent taxpayers before the IRS in income tax audits include attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents.
The tax audit representative will help a taxpayer in preparing all documents requested by the taxing authority and typically attends all meetings and handles correspondence on behalf of the taxpayer.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU GET AUDITED:
Reality is, some people will end up getting audited. Most audits are simply a request for more information, while others may be an invitation to sit down with an agent to discuss your tax forms.
Either way, don’t panic. Ensure you are informed and can act quickly to resolve the outstanding information the IRS is requesting.
Don’t ignore the request: You should respond as soon as possible, not necessarily to provide the information, but at least to provide an update on when you can provide the information or ask for an extension.
Determine whether you’d like representation: If it’s more than a simple information request, you likely don’t need to get a lawyer or tax professional involved. If you can’t find the information or if you are called in to meet with an agent, then it would be beneficeal to call in outside support to guide you through the process and advise you on next moves.
Answer their questions and provide only requested information: You are being audited most likely because the IRS has specific questions about your income and documentation. As such, it’s in your best interest to answer questions to the best of your ability and provide the documentation requested.
Appeal if necessary: In the event that the IRS assesses additional taxes or penalties that you owe, they can alway be appealed. This is a situation where audit representation from a tax professional can be helpful.
Relying on the The Tax Man to handle the audit process can help ease your mind. Having an expert on your side can make sure you do everything possible to minimize having any more trouble with the IRS.