Debunking Tax Myths About IRS Audits

Few Americans actually enjoy doing their taxes. It’s why so many taxpayers tend to wait until the last possible second to file. Then there’s the fear of the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately, the IRS is often portrayed as “out to get us.” Nobody wants to be audited. With that in mind, here are myths about IRS audits that you shouldn’t believe, as referenced from

  1. You’re more likely to be audited if you e-file – Thanks to innovative software, gone are the days when you had to spend days (or even weeks) filing your taxes. The fact is that nearly 90 percent of all returns today are submitted electronically. Plus, the IRS confirms that returns done by hand are 20 times more likely to have mistakes on them compared to ones completed online. This means you shouldn’t have to fret over taking the convenient route this tax season.

  2. IRS agents will come to your home – Mistakes occasionally happen when filing online. For whatever reason, things just don’t match up accordingly. As a result, an agent is required to conduct an audit if for no other reason than to get a few items clarified. So should you have to be concerned about an intimidating IRS agent knocking on your door at dinner time? The short answer is ‘no.’ Nearly 70 percent of audits take place by mail. Be aware that scammers are trying to take advantage of taxpayers via email or phone more so than ever before.

  3. Filing late raises the risk of being audited – Do you consider yourself a procrastinator with taxes? Some taxpayers mistakenly think that using an extension to file late increases their chance of getting audited. This just isn’t accurate, though. There are certainly a number of factors that warrant an extra look by the IRS. But the timeframe in which you filed isn’t necessarily one of them.

  4. Audits are a terrible experience – It used to be that the IRS was a frightening agency that took over your house and went through every record imaginable. You can feel comfortable knowing that isn’t the case anymore. Agents are required to focus more on taxpayer rights and customer service. Ultimately, you’re working with the IRS agent to resolve something on your return.

  5. Only the wealthy get audited – There’s no question that the rich have a higher chance of being audited by the IRS. Those who make less than $200,000 in a year get audited 1 percent of the time. Not surprisingly, the more income you report, the greater the chance of being audited. However, just because you may not make six figures doesn’t mean the IRS won’t take a closer look. For example, families earning less than $100,000 a year saw their audit risk go up by 17 percent in the last seven years. Meanwhile, Americans making more than $100,000 per year have seen their audit risk decrease by 8 percent.

  6. More deductions mean more audits – There are plenty of deductions for taxpayers to take advantage of over the course of a year. It’s not as though a long list of deductions will raise a red flag with the IRS. Now, if charitable deductions amount to more than your income, you’re going to be in some trouble.

  7. The audit risk is over after you get your refund – You waited months to get that refund check and it finally arrives. No longer do you have to worry about audited, right? Not exactly. It’s important to know that the IRS can go back up to three years to audit someone, or up to six years if they find a major discrepancy.

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