Tax audits can be time-consuming, taxing, and possibly expensive. Small business proprietors who might be navigating complex tax policies for the first time or who work in businesses such as restaurants where errors are easy to make are particularly likely to draw unnecessary attention for the IRS.
An audit doesn’t need to be a painful, endless, and invasive process if you follow these tips.
Back Your Claims
Having documentation that proves you qualified for all the deductions is worth it during the audit. However, not all taxpayers can maintain such documentation for 3-6 years.
In the event that you’re missing some documents, for instance, mileage logs or receipts, it might be possible to produce a reconstruction that will stand up to scrutiny by an auditor. For instance, if you didn’t maintain a mileage log and the auditor has doubts regarding your deduction, pull out the year’s daily planner and use it to generate a mileage log.
If you lack a daily planner, you could use letters, emails, or invoices to establish the days you met clients or used your vehicle for business reasons. When you issue the newly generated mileage log, explain to the auditor that the reconstruction is based on that year’s scheduling information.
Maintain Precise, Updated Records
Poor record keeping is common among small business proprietors. It’s advisable you consider accounting software to handle your books. You must install an updated program to ensure compliance. You simply need to enter your information frequently.
It’s helpful to communicate with your accountant frequently because he or she will identify the applicable deductions. Bear in mind that you’re liable for any errors or omissions, so it helps to be up to date.
Don’t Conduct Reconciliations Last Minute
Don’t wait until the end of the year to conduct reconciliations. Instead, do so quarterly or monthly throughout the year. This permits you to recognize, resolve, and investigate reconciling items in a timely way.
If you wait until the end of the year, you might not have sufficient time to resolve the matter before the audit and the effect of several reconciling items might make it more time-consuming to resolve.
Check in with the Tax Representative
Even if you have employed somebody to assist you through the audit, you can’t neglect the task altogether. You’ll find that accountants are frequently swamped between May and June, so it’s easy to overlook certain things. If you aren’t obtaining regular communication regarding the process, it’s important to follow up to ensure things are moving along.
You have Rights
Most audits are rather professional and reasonable during audits. If you’re unfortunate to have an auditor who’s overly hostile or abusive, you can request him to stop. The Taxpayer Rights Bill gives each taxpayer the right to obtain a courteous, prompt, and expert assistance in their IRS dealings.
Therefore, you don’t have to tolerate behavior that breaches those standards. If confrontation doesn’t help, obtain the manager’s name and call to file a complaint. The manager might or might not assign a different auditor but this will probably get the auditor to treat you more courteously. Similarly, you must be respectful and polite to the auditor, not rude. Remember, the auditor is simply doing his job.
Ask Questions throughout the Year
If an unusual transaction takes place or you’re thinking of entering into a new transaction, call your auditor. When you contact your auditor beforehand, they can help you with applying the appropriate accounting treatment the first time rather than rectifying it on the back end.
In addition, if you’re considering a new transaction, the auditor could enlist the help of state, federal, and local tax experts to offer a three-pronged approach to evaluating likely implications to the transaction before it takes place.
The thought of undergoing an audit can overwhelm any business owner. However, implementing these tips will help you prepare for a successful audit.