With April right around the corner, you might be wondering how to lower your risk of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Statistics show the IRS audits about 0.5% of all federal tax returns in any given year. The good news is that you can lower your risk of being audited by following these six tips.
#1) File a Return
You can’t outrun Uncle Sam. If you don’t file a tax return — and you had income that was reported to the IRS for that year — you’ll raise a red flag with the IRS. Upon discovering that you didn’t file a tax return, the IRS may audit you. Therefore, you should always file a tax return to minimize your risk of being audited.
#2) Double-Check Your Income and Expenses
Before filing your tax return, double-check all your income and expenses to ensure the information is correct. If the income reported to the IRS doesn’t match the income on your tax return, the agency may audit you.
#3) Form an LLC or Corp
If you currently operate as an independent contractor or a sole proprietorship, consider forming either a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. Research shows independent contractors and sole proprietorships have the highest audit rate. By forming an LLC or a corporation, you can lower your risk of being audited.
#4) Choose the Right Tax Preparer
Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing the right tax preparer. There are thousands of tax preparation businesses in the United States that specialize in preparing, as well as filing, tax returns. Unfortunately, though, not all of them are credible or legitimate. If you choose a questionable tax preparer such as this, they may make mistakes with your return that results in an audit from the IRS.
#5) File Online
You might be surprised to learn that filing your tax return online can lower your risk of being audited. According to Intuit, roughly one in five mail-filed returns have an error, compared to just 0.5% with e-filed returns. The IRS’s e-filing system has safeguards in place to protect against common filing errors. If the system detects an error, it will notify you — or the preparer who’s filing your return — so that you can fix it.
#6) Complete All Required Fields
While this may sound like common sense, it’s worth mentioning that you should complete all required fields on your tax return. Leaving just one field blank is often enough to trigger an audit.
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