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Behavior during audit could lead to criminal tax case

Criminal tax cases are relatively rare in Georgia. Tax professionals and attorneys will say that one common way to bring on a criminal case related to taxes is to be evasive or obstructive during dealings with the Internal Revenue Service. It's something to keep in mind during an audit, the behavior of the person being audited could turn the case into a criminal one. When an auditor comes across suspicious behavior during an audit, he or she can alert the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS.

Keeping tax records forever isn't a bad idea

Georgia residents and others are advised to keep a physical and digital copy of a tax return for as long as they live. This can be helpful in the event that the IRS claims a person hasn't filed a return in a given year or filed a fraudulent return. Furthermore, the government generally has no deadline to come after a taxpayer who understates his or her income on a tax return.

Facing an IRS audit

Most people living in Georgia take care to submit accurate tax returns. However, some tax documents end up being flagged by the IRS's algorithms, subjecting filers to an audit. Interestingly, there is some evidence that it is not the wealthy who are the most likely to be audited, but those who claim lower incomes and might be eligible for the earned income tax credit.

Audits continue to decline at IRS

When Georgia residents file their taxes, they may be concerned about the threat of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The thought of an auditor going through receipts, paperwork and pay stubs can be enough to make any taxpayer nervous. However, statistics show that tax audits are less likely than they have been in years. The budget of the IRS has been cut repeatedly since 2011; at that time, it had a budget of $12.1 billion annually. In 2017, that figure was down to $11.2 billion. During the intervening years, the agency lost one-third of its personnel dedicated to enforcement.

An overview of a taxpayer's rights

If a person is audited by the IRS, he or she has rights that the agency must respect. For instance, Georgia residents have the right to have questions answered promptly and to expect employees to act professionally at all times. If a taxpayer does not receive good service, he or she may ask to speak with a supervisor about his or her experience.

Potential benefits of legal representation during a tax audit

When Georgia residents or businesses receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service or other tax agency, they likely reach out to their accountants for advice and help. Representation from an attorney could also be beneficial, especially in situations that involve tax disputes or an audit. In some ways, the legal profession is better suited to adversarial encounters.

How the tax audit rate impacts Americans

The IRS audits less than 1 percent of returns submitted by individuals and partnerships. Therefore, it could stand to reason that taxpayers in Georgia and throughout the country have more incentive to cheat on their taxes. However, the truth is that recent changes to the tax code make it harder to do so. It could also be more difficult than people think to avoid reporting income to the IRS because most employers and other parties report an individual's earnings to the government.

Staying prepared in case of an IRS audit

Many companies and business owners in Georgia can begin to develop a sense of complacency about the danger of an IRS audit for their firm, especially given the news that IRS resources have been depleted. There have been cuts to the agency's budget over the past few years that have meant that the tax authority's Large Business and Internationa division takes up fewer examinations and makes smaller audit adjustments. Many business owners complete their taxes and rest assured that they do not need to be concerned about an IRS audit.

Anticipating a tax audit

Business owners in Georgia typically understand the importance of maintaining good records so that they can meet their tax responsibilities. Few anticipate being subjected to an audit. However, some business owners have taken advantage of recent changes in tax law to reduce the tax liability of their businesses. As a result, the IRS may be looking more closely at the tax returns filed by these businesses.

Common reasons a tax audit may occur

Individual taxpayers in Georgia and around the country are at a relatively low risk of being audited by the IRS. Overall, fewer than 1 percent of federal income tax returns are scrutinized further by the government. However, a person's exact audit risk may depend on several factors such as his or her income, deductions taken and forms included in a return. For instance, those who had an adjusted gross income between $500,000 and $999,999 were audited at a rate of 3.62 percent in 2016.

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