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Dealing with tax audits

Some Georgia taxpayers may be concerned about getting audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Much of the concern could be due to the significant amount of misinformation that circulates about tax audits.

Taxpayers should know that audits are not very common. In fact, less than 1 percent of all tax returns that are submitted every year undergo an audit. For people who earn an average income, the likelihood that they will be audited is even lower.

It may also be helpful to know that the likelihood of an audit increases if a taxpayer reports no income or reports an income of more than $200,000. Filers from the general population have an audit rate of less than 1 percent; in comparison, people who report incomes that range from $1 million to $5 million have an audit rate of almost 3.5 percent while those who report nothing have an audit rate of nearly 2.5 percent.

Taxpayers may also be interested to learn that the majority of audits take place by mail. There are not enough resources available to the IRS for agents to be dispatched to all of the taxpayers who have to be questioned.

Audits also do not occur right away. There is a three-year statute of limitations for the reviewing of tax returns. This means that audits can begin long after a return has been filed.

An attorney who practices tax law may work to protect the rights and interests of clients who are being audited. Legal counsel could serve as the intermediary between a client and the IRS regarding all tax-related issues. The attorney may provide guidance regarding how to interpret the tax code and what to expect from the audit process. If necessary, the lawyer may advocate on behalf of the client during audit hearings.

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