Logo Header

News & Advice

What Triggers An IRS Audit?

What Triggers An IRS Audit?

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) selects tax returns for audit through a combination of automated and manual processes. While there is no guaranteed formula for triggering an audit, certain factors may increase the likelihood of your tax return being selected for further scrutiny. Here are some common triggers:

  • High Income: Individuals with higher incomes are often subject to more scrutiny, as there may be more complex financial transactions and opportunities for errors or omissions.
  • Unusual Deductions or Credits: Claiming deductions or credits that are significantly higher or unusual for your income level or profession may attract attention. The IRS compares your deductions and credits to statistical averages for similar taxpayers.
  • Inconsistent Information: Discrepancies between the information on your tax return and the data the IRS has received from employers, financial institutions, or other sources may lead to an audit. Ensure that your reported income matches the forms sent to the IRS.
  • Self-Employment: Self-employed individuals and small business owners may face a higher risk of audit, as there is a potential for underreporting income or incorrectly claiming business expenses.
  • Home Office Deductions: Claiming home office deductions can be a trigger, as the IRS looks closely at whether the claimed space is used exclusively for business purposes.
  • Large Charitable Contributions: Large deductions for charitable contributions relative to your income might attract attention. Make sure to keep proper documentation for all charitable contributions.
  • Cash Transactions: Large amounts of cash transactions or deposits may be flagged, as the IRS is concerned about unreported income.
  • Foreign Bank Accounts and Assets: Failure to report foreign income, foreign bank accounts, or foreign assets can lead to audits, as the IRS is vigilant about uncovering offshore tax evasion.
  • Math Errors or Incomplete Forms: Simple errors on your tax return, such as mathematical mistakes or incomplete forms, can trigger an audit.
  • Random Selection: The IRS also conducts random audits for research and statistical purposes. Even if you’ve filed your return accurately, you could be selected randomly.

Being audited doesn’t necessarily imply wrongdoing. Sometimes, audits are conducted to verify specific information or resolve discrepancies. However, to minimize the risk of an audit, it’s crucial to ensure that your tax return is accurate, well-documented, and in compliance with tax laws. If you’re unsure about any aspect of your tax return, seeking advice from a tax professional can be beneficial.