The U.S. tax code is often referred to as the most complex tax code in the world. Because of this, people can make mistakes, overlook details and misinterpret their obligations quite easily. However, this doesn’t mean that the IRS will look the other way if there are errors or problems with your tax return.
The IRS performs inspections of the tax returns of individuals or businesses to make sure they are accurate. If they find inconsistencies with a return, you could end up paying fines and facing criminal consequences. Because of these penalties and the stress that comes with an audit, people typically do whatever they can to avoid one. One article recently examined the top 10 elements that trigger an audit.
According to research by CNBC.com, common factors that could catch the unwanted attention of the IRS include:
- Questionable or implausible deductions and/or credits
- Premature payouts of IRA and 401(k) accounts
- Incomplete income reporting
- Basic errors on tax forms
- Suspicious deductions related to home offices or businesses
- Significant loss claims
- Unreported foreign accounts or earnings
- Earning more than $200,000 per year
- Working in an industry with a high rate of fraud
- Consistently underpaying taxes
These factors are not guarantees that a person will get audited, but they do raise some red flags for the IRS which can lead to the notification that an inspection of returns is necessary.
It may not always be possible to include or avoid these elements in your tax return, so it can be a good idea to prepare yourself in the event that you are audited. Being able to address and explain questionable or concerning numbers properly can help you protect yourself. In order to do this, it can be wise to discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in both tax preparation and audits. With legal guidance, you can work to minimize costly mistakes and respond appropriately should the IRS contact you.