Learning that you’re being audited is something no one likes to hear, but the reality is many individuals and businesses are audited by the IRS each year. Contrary to popular belief, getting news of an audit is not cause for panic. Those who choose to enlist the help of a reputable and experienced Houston tax attorney who understands how audits work and how to best protect your rights can have some valuable peace of mind in the process.
Why Legal Representation Is Important For Audits
Ideally, individuals and businesses stand to gain the most benefit from hiring an attorney to help them effectively file their taxes in the beginning.
For businesses and corporations, attorneys can interpret tax implications for situations such as:
- Mergers and acquisitions
By having an experienced Houston tax attorney guide you in correctly filing a tax return, it may result in less potential for you to be audited.
For parties who do not have an attorney enlisted from the beginning, it is not too late to have them assist you with an audit after you receive notice. As soon as an individual or business receives notification of an audit, it can be wise to promptly contact an attorney to help prepare for and be present during the audit.
What to Expect During IRS Audits
Each year individuals and businesses are required by law to submit their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. After they are submitted, the information is reviewed by IRS representatives. Any potential causes for concern may be flagged and a notice of an audit could be sent out to the filing party.
The fact that a person’s or business’ tax returns are flagged does not prove wrongdoing. What it does indicate is the need for a formal and in-depth review of a tax return to ensure that it was submitted correctly. Some common situations that could prompt an audit may include:
This can consist of even the simplest of mistakes such as adding incorrectly or transposing two or more numbers in a social security or EIN number.
The IRS is looking to see real numbers that are specific to the penny. If a tax return is full of nice, even numbers it may look suspicious.
If upon review of a tax return the IRS finds a taxable income was not disclosed, it can trigger an audit.
A party whose tax return is in question typically receives notification of an audit via regular mail. Recipients should note that an audit is imminent and should prepare accordingly. Ignoring the notification will not make it go away. Parties receiving a notice should begin to gather the appropriate forms and information to facilitate the examination of their tax records.
Internal Revenue Service audits usually take one of the following forms:
- Correspondence Audit: As the name would indicate, this is handled primarily via writing rather than in person.
- Field Audit: This situation requires an audit recipient to expect an IRS representative at their place of work and can be time intensive for a day or more.
- Office Audit: This type of audit usually requires the filing party and the IRS representative to meet together in person, typically at a local IRS office and for the period of half a day or more.
The outcome of most audits typically takes one of three forms:
- It is determined that the filing party owes money to the government.
- It is determined that the government owes the filing party money.
- There is no change in the original tax return.
Benefits of Legal Representation for an Audit
Going it alone on an audit can be risky, especially if you have no knowledge of the financial and legal speak that may arise during those meetings. In addition, it may also leave your rights insufficiently protected if you are not well versed in what your rights are and how to protect them.
Some benefits of having legal representation for an official tax audit can include:
- Knowledge. Audits are something a reputable tax attorney assists with on a regular basis. They understand how they work, the next steps to take, and what to do to ensure the best possible path forward for a client.
- Terminology advantage. Attorneys who perform audit representation already know the terminology that an Internal Revenue Service representative will be using. This may allow the time of an audit to ultimately be shorter as there are no long explanations required between the IRS agent and the filing party.
- Appeals. Should you decide to appeal the outcome of an audit, having an attorney already onboard who has an intimate understanding of the situation from beginning to end can be instrumental in successfully filing and navigating an audit appeal.
If you hope to avoid an audit by filing your taxes properly, or if you have already been notified of an impending audit, align with a well-respected tax attorney to help protect your rights and give you the gift of peace of mind.