Tax Audit Defenses
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed February 22, 2018
If you've filed a tax return, either with the state or the IRS, your tax return can be subject to a tax audit. The IRS has the authority to randomly or intentionally select tax returns to review the information or uncover mistakes or possible frauds from your tax return. Many tax professionals or tax preparation companies offer a service called "tax audit defense" to help you deal with the process. Read on to the learn about tax audit defenses.
What Are Tax Audit Defenses?
A tax audit defense (also called "tax audit representation") refers to a service by a tax professional or a lawyer defending a taxpayer or a business entity through an audit process. By getting tax audit defense, a taxpayer will have a tax professional to represent him or her and handle the audit process. To lawfully represent a taxpayer, the tax professional must be authorized to practice before the IRS (or before the state for state tax audits). A person is authorized to practice if he or she is a licensed attorney, certified public accountant, or an enrolled agent. Typically, a tax audit representative's duties are to (1) communicate with the IRS, (2) gather necessary information, (3) attend meetings, and (4) submit documents.
Taxpayers purchase tax audit defense to protect their assets and find an appropriate way to resolve the dispute without extra charge or penalty. Keep in mind that audit defense doesn't prevent an audit. It is to reduce the risk and help the audit process go smoother and faster. Depending on the simplicity of your tax return, you may be able to handle the audit process yourself. However, if you're being charged with large fines, penalty, or a possible crime, you should consider hiring a tax lawyer to represent you. Thus, carefully explore your legal consequences to determine whether you need tax audit representation or not.
Types of Tax Audit Defenses
There are different ways companies and professionals offer tax audit defense. Some tax professionals offer a pre-paid service, which is purchased when you file your tax return. Or, if you've already filed your tax return and later ran into audit issues, you will have to retain an independent professional help during an audit.
Pre-Paid Audit Representation
As you file a tax return, the tax professional or the company may offer you to pay a pre-paid tax return audit fees. This pre-paid method works like insurance; you're exchanging relatively small audit fees with full audit representation when your tax return gets selected for an audit. The downside of this method is that you pay the fees without knowing if your tax return will ever get selected for an audit. However, if your tax return gets selected for an audit, you get full audit representation without paying anything extra.
Independent Tax Audit Representation
If you had not purchased the pre-paid audit representation, you will have to retain professional help and pay the full price for the service. Depending on the which service you get, it can be costly.
Choosing an Appropriate Tax Audit Defense
There are several types of tax audits. You don't necessarily need tax audit representation if your tax return simply needs verification of information. The IRS will simply review the entire tax return to make sure there are no mistakes. If everything seems fine, they will make no changes to the tax return and you won't need to make further action. So, before you purchase tax audit defense, you should research and discuss the investing strategies.
A tax audit defense is worth purchasing only if your tax return is complex or if you're being charged with penalties or a crime. You want to choose the right tax audit defense that will resolve your audit issues. To do so, the tax professional should have relevant experience and knowledge in tax laws. Ask yourself the following questions to choose the right tax audit defense service:
- Is the tax professional authorized to practice before the IRS (for federal tax audit) or the state (for state tax audit)?
- How much experience and skills do the tax professional have?
- What's included in the audit defense?
- Does the tax professional have positive reviews online? Read the reviews posted by actual consumers, who have used the service. If you find negative reviews and no positive ones, you should consider staying away from that particular tax professional.
Get the Best Defense to Your Tax Audit: Hire an Attorney
Dealing with tax audits is stressful and frightening. Obtaining tax audit representation may not be necessary for simple tax returns. However, if you're worried about getting audited, it may be worth investing in quality representation. To get help making these decisions, contact an experienced tax lawyer in your area.
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