Your chances of being audited are probably lower than you think. A look at the latest IRS statistics for 2016 reveals two interesting and reassuring facts about the risk of an IRS audit.
One of these facts is that audits are becoming less common. The number of individual tax returns the IRS audited fell to a 12-year low last year, to just above 1 million. Audits have been declining steeply over the last five years, which the IRS commissioner said was due in part to declining budgets and a smaller workforce.
Another fact is that IRS audits happen most often to the super-rich. The statistical chance of being audited increases dramatically for people of higher income levels.
For example, filers that made near the average U.S. income only had a 0.4 percent chance of being audited. That frequency doubled once annual incomes reached $200,000, and doubled again at incomes greater than $500,000. By the time a person reports $10 million in income, they have a one-in-five chance of being audited, according to IRS statistics.
What you should remember should you should be unfortunate to be part of an audit either because of a specific issue on your return or just a random audit….NEVER REPRESENT YOURSELF!. Taxpayers do not realize how the IRS works and questions that seem innocuous are a trap. While it is costly to have a CPA represent you in an audit, it will save you in the long run. The IRS is rarely completely accurate when they adjust returns and those adjustments never go in your favor. You save time, frustration and the risk of having other years reviewed when a CPA represents you. You need to seriously considering hiring a CPA to handle the audit for you. You should not even be in the room.