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What To Expect When You Receive An Audit From The IRS

Dec 29

Receiving an audit from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be a stressful experience for anyone. It’s important to know what to expect if you are ever selected for an audit so that you can prepare yourself and take the right steps. Here, we discuss the different types of audits and how you should prepare yourself if you receive one.

Audit Types

The IRS conducts three primary types of audits: field audits, office audits, and correspondence audits. A correspondence audit is when the IRS sends a letter requesting additional information or clarification regarding items on your tax return. This type of audit is typically done by mail and is often based on mathematical errors or inconsistencies in your return.

Don't be intimidated - an IRS office audit is simply a formal request to answer questions about your taxes in-person at their local office. If the issue can’t be resolved through a correspondence audit, then an office audit may be conducted. During this type of audit, the auditor will review your financial documents and ask questions about any discrepancies they find in your return.

Office audits generally last between one and four hours depending on how complex the issue is that needs to be addressed. Afterward, you will receive a letter from the IRS explaining their findings and whether any action needs to be taken by you.\

Field audits are less common than other types of audits but they do happen; during a field audit, an auditor will come to your home or place of business to examine specific records related to tax deductions or credits that were claimed on your return. Depending on which records need to be examined, it could take anywhere from several hours or several days for them to complete their examination and reach a conclusion about whether any changes need to be made on your tax return.

Preparing For An Audit

If you are selected for an audit it’s important not to panic; instead, take some time beforehand to make sure that you have all of the documents that might be needed for the process such as bank statements, pay stubs, receipts, etc., organized so that they can easily be accessed during the course of the examination. Additionally, consider hiring a CPA or another tax professional who specializes in dealing with IRS auditors; having someone who has expert knowledge in this area could make all the difference when it comes time for negotiation with the auditor if any adjustments need to be made on your return after completion of their examination.

What Is The Most Common Reason For An IRS Audit?

Underreporting Your Income

Underreporting your income is one of the most common reasons why people get an IRS audit. The IRS receives copies of all forms such as W-2s and 1099s and they make sure that your reported income matches. Even if you didn't intentionally try to hide any income, the simplest mistake like forgetting to include one form could trigger an audit so it's important to double-check that everything has been reported correctly.

How Long Does IRS Audit Review Take?

If you are facing an audit by the Internal Revenue Service, you may be wondering how long the process will take. Generally speaking, an IRS audit can take up to six months to complete. However, if the individual or business being audited is adequately prepared for the audit, then it is possible that the review could be completed in less time. While the length of time depends on several factors, taking proactive steps from the start of an audit should lead to a shorter timeframe overall.

Should I Worry About IRS Audit?

An IRS audit is a process that requires you to provide documents and other facts to prove your statements concerning tax deductions, credits, or income. It can be unnerving, but it's important to remember that the IRS wants to make sure everyone is paying their fair share of taxes. While serious discrepancies may lead to fines and repayment of money owed, the majority of audits are conducted with the goal of bringing taxpayers into compliance with either no additional tax liability or any penalties due. Thus, it's always best to stay proactive in filing your taxes correctly and gathering relevant information prior to an audit, which should take much of the stress out of the process.


IRS audits can be a scary process but with the right preparation and knowledge, it is possible to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Make sure you have all relevant records organized in advance and consider hiring a CPA or another tax professional to help answer any questions that might come up during the audit. It's also important to remember that the IRS generally has the goal of bringing taxpayers into compliance with either no additional tax liability or any penalties due. With this in mind, keeping track of your taxes and knowing what to expect when it comes time for an audit should help to make the process much less intimidating.

With a little preparation and understanding, you can successfully navigate through an IRS audit.