After having lived through one IRS audit in my lifetime I’m not all that enthusiastic about other having to live through a similar experience. I knew it was not going to be a pleasant experience when the auditor called me back 45 minutes late to a gray desk with a guy in a wheelchair sitting at the next desk, sobbing. The good news is that in my audit experience I actually got money back. And the IRS agent turned out to be a really nice guy.
Facing both federal and state budget shortfalls the pressure to audit tax payers is increasing. It would be wise to assume that more audits are on the way. Now I don’t know if this is still true or not but a long time ago I dated the daughter in charge of audits at the IRS. One day he pulled me aside and told me never to file my return with the printed label, always write my address in, and always apply for an extension. He said the printed labels contained a random audit code and that many of the audit buckets were filled with early filers. Who knows if that information is still true but I’ll keep assuming so.
If you get an audit notice don’t freak out at first, there’s always time for that latter. And when you go for your audit don’t try making claims that paying taxes is not legal or you object to paying taxes on moral grounds. That’s never worked for anyone else in the past and guess what, it’s not going to work for you.
The IRS is fallible just like you and me and they are not always correct. As long as you follow the deadlines and behave like a rational person you will have an opportunity to work through the audit or claim. I was surprised when my audit resulted in me getting money plus a bit of interest back but it turned out just fine. In fact the IRS agent and I swapped restaurant tips and wound up telling some jokes.
If you are facing an audit and don’t know where to turn for help, the National Association of Enrolled Agents might be a good place to start in looking for affordable representation. An enrolled agent can represent you with the IRS and will be far less expensive that say a tax attorney.