Notice of an IRS audit can be scary, especially if you’ve never been audited before. But there are multiple types of IRS audits, each varying in intensity. Many taxpayers will simply receive a letter in the mail asking a few clarifying questions — this is known as a correspondence audit. In this case, you’ll merely return the information in the mail, whether it involves copies of receipts or a short letter. In more serious cases, the IRS will either come to your home or call you to a local office, where you’ll go over your tax return with an auditor. However your audit takes place, you may wonder if you can simply amend your tax return for that year and resubmit it.
About IRS Audits
Even if you have your return prepared by an experienced tax professional, mistakes happen. On their end, the IRS can catch small things like accounting errors, but there are some things that lead to questions. One area of your tax return might need supporting documentation, for instance, which the IRS can only obtain through either contacting you or scheduling a field audit.
Although audits are designed to prevent deceptive returns, in most cases you were either randomly selected or someone you’ve done business with is being audited. Auditors can go back as far as three years unless there is a substantial error. Even then, though, the IRS likely won’t go back more than six years. The audit process could reveal that your original return had enough errors that you’re interested in submitting an amended return.
Filing an Amended Return
At any time after filing your return with the IRS, you can submit an amended return. You have two years from the time you paid the taxes on a return, so if you filed an extension, the two-year clock starts then. If you rush to file an extension after you’ve been sent a notice of audit, though, chances are you’ll merely confuse the IRS. The auditor likely won’t be watching for a return from you and will proceed to the meeting without considering what you submitted. If it’s a correspondence audit, the IRS will simply want the documentation it requested, so sending an amended return could also lead to confusion.
When you are audited, you are given two choices: agree or disagree with the findings. If you agree, you sign and pay the taxes. If you disagree, you start an appeal process. The only reason for filing an amended return at that point would be if you discovered that taxes you filed in the previous or following year had a similar error. If you do choose to amend a return that wasn’t part of the audit, you’ll need Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
What to Do After an Audit
If you agree with the results of your audit, there will be nothing more to do. You’ll simply sign any documentation and remit the payment you owe, then move on with your life. But if you disagree, you’ll need to state that at the conclusion of the audit and file an appeal. The IRS also offers mediation to allow someone to take a look at the findings and make a decision based on the facts.
One reason you might consider amending your return is if you discover information after agreeing to the audit findings. In that case, though, an amended return isn’t the appropriate next step. Instead, the IRS will direct you to file an audit reconsideration request. This allows you to present the new information you’ve found in the hopes that the IRS will adjust its audit findings as a result.
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