No one likes the stress involved when your tax return is under the audit spotlight. Here are some ideas to avoid some of the more common audit triggers.
- Report everything that has an informational tax return. If you are like most Americans, you will receive numerous 1099s, W-2s, and 1095s in the mail. The IRS receives them too. If your tax return does not meet or exceed this reported income you can count on receiving a notice from the IRS. Some hints:
- Make a list of the forms received last year
- Update the list with any new vendors or employers
- Check off each of them when you receive them
- Match the reports…even when they are wrong. When reviewing your tax return make it easy for the IRS programs to match what is being reported to them. If an amount on a 1099 or W-2 is incorrect, try to get it changed before you file your tax return. If not possible, report the incorrect amount (so it matches the IRS records) and then correct it with an explanation.
- Get your key information right. Social Security numbers must be valid. Names must match Social Security numbers. Mis-matches here are sure to be noticed.
- Get your dependents right. You and an ex-spouse must consistently report your dependents. Both of you cannot claim a child as a dependent. If an ex-spouse claims paying you alimony, it must match alimony income on your tax return.
- Understand the chances of audit. Each year the IRS reports audit rates by income level and type of tax return. While the overall audit rate is around 1 percent, it is much higher for high income tax returns and returns that have small business activity (Schedule C).
Even if you believe you have done everything correctly, audits happen. Should it happen to you please do not hesitate to seek help.