Who Can Help Me Handle an IRS Tax Audit?

“I’m being audited by the IRS and I don’t know what to do,” Stan said. “To me, it seems like the IRS targets the small business owner.  I run a small general contracting firm, just me and two guys. There’s no bookkeeper, no accountant – I do all that stuff myself.”

“So maybe I made a mistake somewhere in the paperwork,” he continued. “How am I going to prove my side of the story? I don’t even know where all my records are. Do you know how easy it is to lose receipts?”

Small Business Owners: You Need Help Facing An IRS Audit

When you’re a small business owner, you tend to do a lot of things yourself.  Keeping costs down means you might handle all of your business’ financial paperwork on your own. However, if the IRS is auditing you, you don’t want to go it alone.

During an IRS audit, you may be asked to answer questions via mail or in person. It’s essential that your answers be honest and correct.  However, it’s also important to know that there are limits to the questions the IRS can ask you during the audit.  If you don’t know that you don’t have to answer a question, chances are you will – and that information can be used against you!

Protect your small business by getting the best audit representation available. Our firm specializes exclusively in resolving tax problems – it’s all we do, and it’s all we’ve done for more than 16 years. We’ve helped thousands of small business owners resolve their tax problems successfully. We know how to handle lost receipts, accounting errors, and the everyday mistakes that trigger an IRS audit. 

Don’t go it alone. Our firm can handle the IRS audit while you concentrate on running your business. You’ll save time, money, and a lot of stress when you get the best tax help.

IRS Increases Number of Audits

Tommy Williams CFP
June 18, 2011

Now that most of you have completed your tax returns for 2010, perhaps we might reflect on the most dreaded of tax consequences, the IRS audit.

We spend a considerable amount of time in an effort to be tax efficient. Defer taxes, avoid them and use every tool and technique offered by the Internal Revenue Code to legally limit our tax cost. Given the financial struggles of our federal government, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that the IRS has nearly doubled its examinations of returns from the richest taxpayers.

IRS audits are up nearly 8 percent for the wealthiest Americans. This spring, the Internal Revenue Service released the 2010 IRS Data Book. Journalists and tax professionals looked inside and noticed a couple of eyebrow-raising statistics. The first is that the IRS audited 18.4 percent of 2010 tax returns filed by taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $10 million. That’s up from 10.6 percent for 2009. The second is that taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $5 million and $10 million were also targets. Audits increased by 55 percent for this group in 2010 with the percentage of audited returns jumping from 7.5 percent to 11.6 percent. So what’s going on here? The IRS has ramped up its efforts to investigate offshore bank accounts and tax shelters, and it appears to be acting on its newfound knowledge. It started a Global High Wealth Industry Group in 2010 to “centralize and focus IRS compliance expertise involving high net worth individuals.”

As IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said at a meeting of the New York State Bar Association Taxation Section, “We’re looking for and finding points of leverage, also called ‘nodes’ of activity, where multiple people not paying taxes can be detected. Financial institutions are one such potential node of activity. Promoters of evasion schemes are another.”

Now the IRS has started an Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, providing information in eight languages to reach taxpayers and preparers who are non-native English speakers. By coming forward about undisclosed offshore accounts, they stand a chance of avoiding criminal prosecution.

Audit rates increased across the board last year. The overall IRS audit rate was 1.11 percent in 2010, up from 1 percent in 2009. The taxpayers least likely to face an audit were within the $75,000 to $100,000 adjusted gross income range with 0.64 percent of their returns being audited.

Experts tell me to do your part to look good. Most audits are not purely attributable to bad luck. Why not do the little things that may help to decrease the odds? Some of the basics are to document all expenses relatable to your business, report every bit of income, claim sensible but not outlandish deductions, avoid portraying a hobby as a business venture, sign your return and work with a really good tax preparer.
If you do find yourself with a tax problem, I’d suggest you invest in some professional guidance.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial adviser prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.

Why Wesley Snipes got caught. Celebrity or not, non-filers can run but they cannot hide from the IRS.

The simple answer as to why Wesley Snipes will soon begin serving a three-year sentence for tax evasion is that he didn’t file his tax returns for 1999 through 2004 and also tried to get a $7 million refund in 2006 on returns filed before he stopped filing in 1999. The broader answer is that in 2010, the IRS has more sophisticated resources, more personnel, and more incentive (nearly $345 billion owed to the federal government, which has a budget deficit in the trillions) than ever before to track down non-filers. In 2010 and beyond, if you fail to file your tax returns, chances are exceptional that you will get caught.

“What non-filers do not realize is the IRS will prepare a Substitute For Return (SFR) for you if you don’t file a tax return yourself. Only that SFR will not have the vast majority of the deductions you might be entitled to had you filed on your own,” said Matthew J. Previte, CPA, a local taxpayer advocate expert and owner of TaxProblemsRUs.com. “So, if you don’t file a tax return for several years like Mr. Snipes, the IRS has the technology to prepare an SFR for you and then will start burying you with severe penalties and interest based on that grossly inflated SFR assessment.”

Fortunately for non-filers, the IRS generally only looks back six years for unfiled tax returns. Yet without including all the deductions one might be entitled to, those SFR assessments can be grossly inflated due to that lack of deductions. The IRS can also utilize any number of resources to calculate income. For example:

  • Bank accounts – IRS can track non-filer accounts and review your deposit and spending histories.
  • Credit card spending – IRS can track overseas and domestic spending to prove income.
  • Audits of payees – Often times the people non-filers pay for goods and services are audited and that can alert the IRS to the payer’s non-filing.
  • IRS whistleblower programs – Does anybody else know you haven’t filed? An ex-wife or significant other? Perhaps a vindictive business associate? IRS whistle-blower programs raise the red flag and agents are more than happy to follow those leads.

So, with all the mechanisms available to the IRS to catch non-filers, why do people still not file?

“The reasons vary. Everything from bad advice from tax protestors and unscrupulous tax advisors to financial or health problems to even just plain old general neglect. Once one year is unfiled, fear and embarrassment most often perpetuate the problem, causing additional years to go unfiled. Some might even think if they don’t file, they won’t ever have to pay taxes. I’ve represented quite a few people who haven’t filed for 25 years or more,” said Previte. “The reality is, with the resources the IRS now has, non-filers will get caught and the punishment, if prosecuted and proven guilty like Mr. Snipes, is one year in prison per year you don’t file up to six years. If you’re lucky enough to avoid prosecution and jail time, the IRS will still bury you in taxes, penalties, and interest.”

Continues Previte, “The real irony about non-filers is that by filing their tax returns—even if they don’t have the money to pay the IRS—they have more options to resolve their tax debts than by not filing their tax returns.”

Some of those options include: 

  • Offer in Compromise program
  • Payment plan
  • Bankruptcy
  • Uncollectible status
  • Penalty Abatement
  • Lien Subordination
  • Innocent Spouse Relief

“These are just a few of the scenarios where having a qualified licensed tax professional represent you—instead of pulling your bed covers over your head and praying you don’t get caught–can literally save you thousands of dollars and dramatically reduce the likelihood of prison time,” said Previte. “At the very least, it can lessen the stress and anguish that come with having tax debt hanging over your head and your family’s.”

To schedule a free confidential consultation, call 877-259-8200 or, for more information, visit www.TaxProblemsRUs.com.