Navigating Tax Audits: What You Need to Know and How to Prepare

Facing a tax audit can be daunting and stressful, especially if you’re unsure about the process and what’s required. This blog post delves into the common issues related to tax audits, the steps involved, and practical advice on how to navigate this challenging process effectively.

What is a Tax Audit?

A tax audit is an examination of an individual’s or organization’s tax returns by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure that financial information is reported correctly and complies with tax laws. Audits can be triggered by various factors, including discrepancies in reported income, unusually high deductions, or random selection.

Common Issues Leading to Tax Audits

  1. Reporting Errors:
    • Mistakes: Simple errors in calculations or incorrectly reported income can raise red flags with the IRS.
    • Mismatched Information: Discrepancies between the information reported on your tax return and information from third parties (e.g., employers, banks) can trigger an audit.
  2. Unusually High Deductions:
    • Red Flags: Claiming unusually high or inappropriate deductions compared to your income level can prompt further scrutiny.
    • Documentation: Failing to provide adequate documentation for claimed deductions can lead to issues during an audit.
  3. Self-Employment Income:
    • Underreporting: Self-employed individuals are more likely to be audited, particularly if there are discrepancies or underreported income.
    • Expenses: Deductions for business expenses must be well-documented and legitimate to avoid raising suspicions.
  4. Foreign Accounts:
    • Disclosure: Not properly disclosing foreign accounts and assets can result in severe penalties and increase the likelihood of an audit.
    • Compliance: Ensuring compliance with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and other reporting requirements is crucial.

The Tax Audit Process

Understanding the tax audit process can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with it. Here are the general steps involved:

  1. Notification:
    • Letter: The IRS will notify you of the audit via a letter. This letter will outline the scope of the audit and the required documentation.
    • Types: Audits can be conducted through correspondence (mail) or in-person (field audit or office audit).
  2. Preparation:
    • Documentation: Gather all relevant documents, such as income statements, receipts, and financial records.
    • Representation: Consider hiring a tax attorney or CPA to represent you during the audit.
  3. Examination:
    • Review: The IRS will review your documentation and may ask for additional information or clarification.
    • Interviews: In some cases, the IRS may conduct interviews to better understand your financial situation.
  4. Resolution:
    • Findings: The IRS will present their findings, which may result in no change, an additional tax assessment, or a refund.
    • Appeals: If you disagree with the findings, you have the right to appeal the decision.

Preparing for a Tax Audit

Navigating a tax audit can be overwhelming, but following these steps can help you prepare effectively:

  • Organize Your Records: Ensure all relevant financial documents, such as receipts, bank statements, and income records, are well-organized and easily accessible.
  • Review Your Return: Carefully review your tax return to understand the potential issues that might be scrutinized.
  • Seek Professional Help: Consider consulting a tax professional, such as a tax attorney or CPA, who can provide guidance and represent you during the audit.
  • Respond Promptly: Timely responses to IRS requests and inquiries are crucial. Delays can complicate the process and may lead to additional penalties.
  • Be Honest and Transparent: Provide accurate and complete information to the IRS. Misleading or withholding information can result in severe penalties.


Facing a tax audit doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Understanding common issues that trigger audits and knowing the steps involved can help you prepare and respond effectively. With careful preparation, organized records, and professional assistance, you can navigate the complexities of a tax audit and achieve the best possible outcome.

If you have received an audit notice or are concerned about potential issues with your tax return, it’s essential to seek expert advice and support. Proper preparation and representation can significantly impact the audit process and its outcome.

Contact Us

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call us at 770-277-1400 or visit our website at ploegandbrown.com. Let us help you navigate your tax audit with confidence and peace of mind.