It’s tax season once again and millions of Americans are diligently collecting forms from their employers, gathering receipts, and preparing their taxes. A lot of people happily receive a refund check in the mail during this time period, but there’s always a few people who aren’t so lucky. For whatever reason, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decides that your tax refund needs to be scrutinized and audited for any potential mistakes. This is not an enjoyable process by any means to go through, so here are ten great ways for avoiding an IRS audit.
1. Prepare Your Taxes Online If you make a mathematical mistake on your taxes, this alone could trigger an IRS audit. If you file your taxes online, the program will do all of the mathematics for you. Filing your taxes electronically will also make your forms look neater and more official to the IRS, further making an audit less likely.
2. Limit Itemized Deductions It’s okay to itemize deductions, but if you are making large deductions that seem irregular to someone of your income bracket, you are painting a target on your self for the IRS. Be sure to keep records of all donations and any other itemized deductions.
3. Don’t Round Numbers for Deductions When you round off numbers for your deductions to make the numbers look neater, the IRS believes that you are estimating those numbers and are probably inaccurate. Use the exact numbers that you have so the IRS doesn’t come knocking.
4. Provide Proof for Large Deductions If you claim any large deductions, such as medical bills, or damage from a flood, attach copies of any checks, receipts, or insurance reports that you have to prove that your deductions are legitimate.
5. Check Your Math The IRS will automatically correct some of the mathematical errors on your form, but if you have a lot of mathematical mistakes on your tax return, the IRS might flag it for an audit. Be sure to go through your math at least three times if you are filing on paper.
7. Don’t Forget to Sign Your Return Oddly enough, over 1 million Americans each year forget to sign their income tax return! If you didn’t sign your return, technically you didn’t file it, always check twice to make sure that you signed your tax form.
8. Report All Of Your Income Things such as cash prizes, alimony money, and just about everything that comes in is reportable income. You don’t know what income will have a 1099 form sent along with it to the IRS, so be sure to report all of your income, otherwise you will be audited, and hit with back taxes, fines, and interest.
9. Be Honest About Small Business Expenses – The IRS knows that a lot of people with small businesses often create “business expenses” to lower their tax liability. Be sure that you can substantiate any business expense that you list on your tax form.
10. Don’t take the Home Office Deduction For whatever reason, filing for a home office deduction is a major red flag to the IRS. Basically you can deduct the expenses of whatever portion of your home is a home office, but don’t bother taking it. You really won’t get much of anything back from the deduction, and it’s a major red flag.