Tips to avoid getting audited by IRS this tax season

Experts say there are some things you can do to keep the IRS from giving your returns extra scrutiny
March 6, 2014 8:29:47 PM PST
It's the five-letter word every taxpayer fears: audit. It turns out there are some things you can do to keep the IRS from giving your returns extra scrutiny.

The good news is that only about 1 percent of returns get audited, the bad news, that still makes up more than one million audits a every year.

Sarah Zubair has an unusual situation this tax season.

"I could not get my taxes prepared last year because I did not have time so I brought last year's and this year's," she said.

Zubair is getting the volunteers at Houston's Neighborhood Tax Centers to file her returns for free.

As for the fear of an audit?

"I guess everybody is. This year that is why I am here so I can talk to the professionals so they can help me," Zubair said.

About 1.4 million taxpayers can expect an audit this year. Keeping the IRS at bay requires preparation, for instance if you do not report income from savings accounts or investments the IRS will likely flag your return.

"Don't leave out any 1099's or W-2's and the most important thing on your deductions is to make sure that you provide sufficient detail, don't just lump everything together and call it miscellaneous," Houston CPA Bob Martin said.

Martin says that's especially true for the self employed because the IRS looks over small business schedule C's very closely.

"Part of the reason the IRS audits more of these is because they collect more dollars," he said.

Martin says schedule C gives people more than 20 classifications for expenses. Auditors are looking for returns that lump all expenses into only one or two categories.

"Don't just lump everything together and call it office expenses," Martin said.

A big red flag is deducting 100 percent of your car expenses under business expenses. Accountants say you have to deduct the personal use, it's something the IRS pays close attention to.

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