IRS Audits – Correspondence Audit Hints – 4 Rules of Combat
If you’re one of the unlucky few to get hit with an audit letter from the IRS, don’t panic. If you reported all your income and have good documentation, your return may only have been selected because it doesn’t fall within IRS “norms.”
A correspondence audit doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have to pay more taxes. Many audited returns result in no change-and some get refunds when taxpayers realize they overlooked deductions.
The initial IRS letter will spell out what the agency requires from you. Typically, it lists the two or three issues in question, and these are the only ones that you must support with documentation. Here are the four types of how to handle the letter:
Don’t go it alone. Because this type of audit simply involves an exchange of letters, many taxpayers think they can take care of it themselves. It would be wise, however, to consult your accountant or other tax pro. Show that person the IRS request and let him determine whether you can handle it on your own. In many cases you can, and you’ll save money. It usually comes down to how complicated the request is.
Send a copy of your audit letter along with your documentation when responding to a mail audit. That way, your documents can be filed correctly and forwarded to the right IRS staffer. The IRS says many taxpayers simply can cram their documents in an envelope and send them to the IRS without any reference as to why the taxpayer is sending them.
Respond promptly to any mail audit. That’s vital to resolving the issues. Although the IRS may give you 30 days to answer its inquiry, make an effort to respond in 10 days. This will indicate that you’re cooperating with the agency. It’s also wise to send your material via certified mail “return receipt requested” as proof you responded by the deadline.
Don’t automatically pay the negligence penalty. If the IRS says you owe extra tax, you may also be hit with a 20 percent negligence penalty. You should definitely request a waiver of the penalty if you believe you had a good reason for making the mistake. Back taxes and interest can’t be waived, but the IRS has the discretion to waive the penalty-as it often does with any kind of decent explanation from the taxpayer.