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How to Correctly Handle IRS Audits 

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Alisson Ward

Tax Professional | Content Writer

Correctly Handle IRS Audits 

How to Correctly Handle IRS Audits 

Receiving a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) informing you that you’re being audited can be an anxiety-inducing experience. However, it’s essential to remember that an IRS audit is not necessarily a negative event, and handling it correctly can help you navigate the process with confidence. Here, we’ll discuss how to correctly handle IRS audits, what to expect, and the best practices to ensure a smooth and successful audit. 

Understand the Different Types of Audits 

Before diving into the specifics of handling an IRS audit, it’s essential to understand that there are different types of audits: 

  • Correspondence Audit: In this type of audit, the IRS requests additional information or documentation through written correspondence. It’s typically used for relatively simple issues, such as verifying deductions or credits. 
  • Office Audit: In an office audit, you’ll be asked to visit an IRS office to review specific aspects of your return. Office audits are often used for more complex issues, but they are not as extensive as field audits. 
  • Field Audit: Field audits are the most comprehensive and may involve an IRS agent visiting your home or business. They are typically conducted for more complex tax returns or when there is suspicion of significant discrepancies. 

Understanding the type of audit you’re facing will help you prepare for the process and know what to expect. 

Review Your Tax Return 

The first step in handling an IRS audit is to review your tax return, including all supporting documentation and records. Make sure you have a clear understanding of how you prepared your return, the deductions you claimed, and any other relevant details. 

Gather all the documents and records that were used to prepare your tax return, including: 

  • W-2 and 1099 forms: These documents show your income from employers and other sources. 
  • Receipts and invoices: Keep records of expenses and deductions you claimed. 
  • Bank and financial statements: These can help verify your income and financial transactions. 
  • Any other relevant documents: Gather any documents related to your financial activities that are relevant to the audit. 

Having your tax return and supporting documents organized and readily accessible will help streamline the audit process. 

Respond Promptly 

Upon receiving an audit notice, it’s crucial to respond promptly. The notice will provide information about the audit and may include a deadline for your response. Failure to respond or request an extension can result in penalties or further scrutiny. 

If you need additional time to gather documents or prepare for the audit, contact the IRS as soon as possible to request an extension. This shows your willingness to cooperate and your commitment to providing accurate and complete information. 

Seek Professional Assistance 

While it’s possible to handle an IRS audit on your own, seeking professional assistance can be highly beneficial, especially for complex audits or if you have concerns about the audit process. Tax professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs) or enrolled agents, have expertise in tax matters and can guide you through the audit process. 

A tax professional can help you in various ways, including: 

  • Reviewing your tax return: They can assess the accuracy and completeness of your return and help identify any discrepancies. 
  • Preparing for the audit: A tax professional can help you gather the necessary documents and records and ensure that you’re well-prepared for the audit. 
  • Representing you before the IRS: If you’re uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the audit process, a tax professional can represent you during the audit and handle communication with the IRS. 
  • Negotiating on your behalf: If the audit reveals discrepancies or issues, a tax professional can negotiate with the IRS to reach a resolution that is fair and favorable to you. 

Be Honest and Transparent 

During an IRS audit, honesty and transparency are paramount. It’s essential to provide complete and accurate information to the IRS. Attempting to hide or misrepresent information can result in more severe consequences, including penalties and legal action. 

If you made an error on your tax return or omitted relevant information, it’s best to admit the mistake and provide the correct information during the audit. The IRS is more likely to be understanding and work with you if you are forthright and cooperative. 

Organize Your Documents 

Properly organizing your documents is crucial for a smooth audit. Create a file or folder for all audit-related documents and ensure that they are well-organized and easy to access. This includes all correspondence with the IRS, copies of your tax return, supporting documentation, and any additional information requested during the audit. 

Having a well-organized file can help you respond to IRS inquiries more efficiently and demonstrate your commitment to cooperating with the audit. 

Attend the Audit Prepared 

If your audit requires an in-person meeting with the IRS, it’s essential to attend the meeting well-prepared. Here are some tips for the audit meeting: 

  • Arrive on time: Punctuality is crucial. Arriving on time for the audit demonstrates professionalism and respect for the process. 
  • Bring all necessary documents: Ensure that you have all the documents and records requested by the IRS or relevant to the audit. Having complete and organized documentation is essential. 
  • Be respectful and professional: Maintain a respectful and professional demeanor during the audit meeting. Answer questions honestly and concisely. 
  • Seek clarification: If you don’t understand a question or request from the IRS agent, don’t hesitate to seek clarification. It’s better to ask for clarification than to provide incorrect information. 

Understand Your Rights 

It’s essential to understand your rights during an IRS audit. The IRS has specific guidelines and procedures in place to protect your rights as a taxpayer. Familiarize yourself with your rights, which may include the right to: 

  • Representation: You have the right to be represented by a qualified tax professional during the audit. 
  • Privacy: Your privacy should be respected during the audit, and information provided should be kept confidential. 
  • Appeal: If you disagree with the findings of the audit, you have the right to appeal the decision. 
  • Explanation: You have the right to receive a clear explanation of the audit process and any findings. 

Knowing and asserting your rights can help ensure a fair and just audit process. 

Review the Audit Findings 

After the audit is complete, the IRS will provide you with the findings. It’s essential to carefully review the audit results and any proposed changes to your tax return. If you agree with the findings, follow the instructions provided by the IRS for resolving any discrepancies or paying any additional taxes owed. 

If you disagree with the findings or believe that there are errors in the audit results, you have the right to appeal. You can request an appeal through the IRS Office of Appeals. Consult with a tax professional to guide you through the appeal process. 


Handling an IRS audit correctly involves thorough preparation, transparency, cooperation, and, when necessary, seeking professional assistance. While audits can be stressful, they can also provide an opportunity to ensure the accuracy of your tax return and address any discrepancies. By following the steps outlined Here and approaching the audit process with a clear and organized mindset, you can navigate the process with confidence and integrity. 

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