Getting audited by the IRS can be an incredibly stressful experience. Even if you have done nothing wrong with your taxes, there is the nagging question that you might have filled something out incorrectly. While the best thing to do when you get audited is be honest and comply in any way you can, it is a lot better to not get audited in the first place. While part of this is out of your control, there are things you can do to decrease your chances of being audited. Here are some tips on how to avoid this…
Learn about how audits are selected
First of all, it pays off to educate yourself about the process that the IRS has to select audits. While there is a bit of randomization, the computer algorithm that they use, the Discriminant Income Function, is actually quite consistent. Knowing how audits are selected obviously gives you a better understanding of how to prevent this.
When in doubt, include extra forms
The IRS isn’t going to audit a return that they don’t have any questions about, or at least they are far less likely to. If you feel like there is any part of your tax return that needs extra explanations, then be sure to clear all doubt by including more receipts, extra forms, and worksheets. If there is something that has changed from your last annual return, see if there is a formal way to explain that as well (such as a divorce, new home address, change in a number of dependents, and so on).
Don’t leave blank spaces
This rule cannot be stated enough. Never leave a blank space on an IRS document. Even if there is nothing to report on that specific line, fill it with a zero. If the IRS has any reason to assume you made a mistake or are hiding something because of a line that you left blank, then they are far more likely to look into your return. The goal is to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Get professional help
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to avoid an audit is to get the help of a professional who already knows all of these things, and can help your tax return be as clear and understandable to the IRS as possible.