Avoid An IRS Audit

How can you avoid an IRS audit? There’s a .58% chance if you make 20-50k that you’ll be audited by the IRS, but that still adds up to 259,794 unlucky people. Here’s some strategies on how you can avoid becoming one of them:

  • Keep your papers neat, include all necessary attachments, and sign where you’re supposed to. If your papers are sloppy, it’s a trigger to IRS personnel that your numbers might be sloppy too.
  • Give exact values on your non-cash contributions
  • Deducting big losses from what you say is a business but what the IRS says is a hobby is a red flag.
  • Make sure the income you’re reporting matches the income reported on the income forms the IRS is getting independent of your return.
  • Deductions high above the national average are a red flag. For someone earning $50-$100k, that’s $5,812 in deductible taxes, $2,703 in charitable gifts, and $8,946 in interest.
  • You must report all interest, dividends and misc. income. Everyone who sends you a 1099 is also sending one to the IRS.
  • Round numbers are a dead giveaway, as are “stupid” numbers. For example, the maker of “Girls Gone Wild” got in trouble for reporting $333,333.33 in false expenses.
  • Claim only legitimate deductions, unlike (true story) one “Chesty Morgan” a stripper who attracted tried to claim breast implants as a medical expense.

Here’s a few more from WorldWideWebTax:

  • You have large amounts of itemized deductions on your tax return that exceed IRS targets.
  • You claim tax shelter investment losses on your tax return.
  • You have complex investment or business expenses on your tax return.
  • You own or work in a business which receives cash and/or tips in the ordinary course of business.
  • Your business expenses are large in relation to your income on your tax return.
  • You have rental expenses on your tax return.
  • A prior IRS audit resulted in a tax deficiency.
  • You have complex tax transactions without explanations on your tax return.
  • You are a shareholder or partner in an audited partnership or corporation.
  • You claim large cash contributions to charities in relation to your income on your tax return.
  • An informant has given information to the IRS.

Personally we find taxes very confusing and intimidating and appreciate the fine services provided by our certified public accountant.

(Photo: chasingfun)


Edit Your Comment

  1. sleze69 says:

    Clearly, Chesty’s implants qualify as a business expense.

  2. spanky says:

    That’s not the real Chesty Morgan from the movie Deadly Weapons. It’s an imposter.

  3. modenastradale says:

    @sleze69: Yeah, no kidding. Athletes and models can probably deduct training expenses. Why not Chesty’s implants? :-)

  4. Spamwich says:

    Obviously the only thing that matters is whether or not the IRS goes for it, but the argument that they are a business expense seems not without some validity; I’m sure she makes more money with them than without.

  5. Rachacha says:

    Well of course Chesty could not deduct her implants as a Business expense…they are considered a Capital improvement which require you to capitalize the cost. From the IRS web page:

    Capital Expenses

    You must capitalize, rather than deduct, some costs. These costs are a part of your investment in your business and are called capital expenses. Capital expenses are considered assets in your business.There are, in general, three types of costs you capitalize.

    Business start-up cost (See the note below)
    Business assets
    Note: You can elect to deduct or amortize certain business start-up costs.

    A determination would also need to be made how often they are used for business expenses vs personal use :-)

  6. sonneillon says:

    Chesty love was successfully able to deduct her implants as a business expense. She wasn’t able to deduct them as a medical expense, but as a business write off it’s more useful anyways.

  7. mgy says:

    I wish I could use these tips to avoid financial aid audits from my university EVERY GOD DAMNED SEMESTER

  8. ramblnrev says:

    It should be required by law that any one who is part of enacting and/or drafting the tax codes MUST complete and file their own returns.

  9. DWeaver says:

    Hmmm….starting to regret stapling that $20 to my donation sheet now….

    *shifty eyes*

  10. chrylis says:

    @Rachacha: As a small-business owner, I would like to point out that many small businesses can choose to deduct rather than depreciate some capital investments under “section 179”. If the implants cost more than $125,000, then this story is even odder than it first appears…

  11. SamVed says:

    The best way to avoid an IRS audit is to get rid of the IRS, for God’s sake! [www.fairtax.org] explains everything. The FairTax plan “replaces all federal income and payroll based taxes with a progressive national retail sales tax.” Simple, clean, no paper to send, no BS.

  12. I’d recommend just paying more up front for a seasoned CPA (even better-former IRS). They are number machines, and they can think of things that would absolutely boggle your mind (all while still being legal), so the extra money you pay up front will pay itself off in more than one way when they’re done

  13. Pro-Pain says:

    I avoid audits by being dead fucking broke. Works every time.

  14. @Pro-Pain: Agreed. Although I’m making my way out of that.

  15. r081984 says:

    I can’t wait for the day, that they simplify the tax code so everyone can understand it.

    What does it have to be so complicated?

  16. Conan the Electrician says:

    When chesty love quits her stripper job, does she have to pay recapture tax on her breast implants as she converted those assets from business use to personal use?

  17. nikalseyn says:

    I retired from IRS. A couple of tips:
    1. if you are audited and the auditor says you owe more tax, always, repeat always, tell them you will appeal and then do it. They do not like cases to go to appeals. Appeals always tried to settle the case easily and quickly. thus, you stand a good chance of paying less by going to appeals.
    2. an easy way to reduce your taxes is to have a business or better yet a farm that you can write expenses off. a rental home is good also. everything you buy like a hammer, paper, etc etc during the year can probably be written off on your small, part time business.
    3. I don’t know what the amount is lately, but IRS will not even consider filing criminal charges against you unless the tax due is over something like $10k.
    4. You must remember IRS is just a very large bureaucracy filled with mind-numbed robots mostly intent only on reaching retirement.

  18. dallasmay says:

    Wow, My wife and I doubled the national average for charitable gifts. We had $52000 last year and gave over $6000 in gifts. And of coarse there is lots of paper to prove it if asked.

    The rest of your are so greedy! Sheesh.

  19. silencedotcom says:

    Have any advice for those of us who just got audit notices in the mail? :(

  20. silencedotcom says:

    @silencedotcom: (forgot to mention for my 2005 tax return, silly me!)

  21. The only difference between a hobby and a business the IRS cares about is how much money you made.

  22. moore850 says:

    The only thing you really have to do is not lie, and retain paperwork to prove your figures. An audit is only really scary if you did either of those things!

  23. cde says:

    Key word people. She tried to pass them off as MEDICAL expense. Cosmetic surgery not tied with previous medical conditions (i.e. reconstructive surgery) are optional, and have no medical purpose.

    But as a business expense, they qualify.

  24. Four-banger? I hardly knew her! says:

    @SamVed: I’m sorry but the logic of this so called Fair Tax fails miserably. The middle class carry the large majority of the tax burden in that plan. Although people who make more money do tend to consume more, they do not consume more proportionally to their income and therefore pay a lower overall percentage of their income as tax. This plan heavily favors those who make lots of money and they are just hoping that the middle class is stupid enough to fall for it.

  25. Chongo says:

    I keep all my receipts but this year I just did not have the time to really go through every nook and cranny. So instead I UNDERestimated my writeoff (which were only a few things anyways).

    Even though I dont want to go through an audit I think it would be pretty funny when the auditor tells me I am actually OWED money. Does that ever happen?

  26. Chongo says:

    BTW for those interested, H&R block software onsite automatically rounds the numbers. The CPA who helped me said that the IRS prefers rounded numbers.

    who knows…

  27. gbroiles says:

    “rounding” to the nearest dollar is one thing, rounding to the nearest hundred is another. most tax software rounds to the nearest dollar, as do pretty much all tax professionals.

    yes, you can get money back on an audit, if you can prove your income was less or your deductions greater than those shown on the return.

    if you got an audit notice, and you don’t know what to do with it, hire a professional. it’s much cheaper and easier for the professional to clean up the mess before you make it worse.

    also, there are some audit notices that are essentially generated by a computer (they’ll say “CP-2000” near the top right hand corner of the first page) that typically show up if your income on the return doesn’t match what the IRS expected given the 1099’s that were filed.

    other audit notices are on real letterhead from a real person in an office near you.

    the second category are more likely to be interesting – they may want to talk in person, whereas the CP-2000 indicates it’s going to be handled exclusively by mail or FAX.

    a colleague who does criminal tax work says the current threshhold for prosecution is approx $40K in understated/evaded tax. YMMV.

    understating your deductions so you can get money back in an audit is silly – that’s your money you’re leaving on the table. even for self-employed people, the audit rate historically has been around 3%, so the chances of audit are really pretty small.