The Dangers of a DIY IRS Audit

We are living in a golden age for do-it-yourself-ers. There is unprecedented access to information, and you can Google how to do just about anything. Things that used to take hours or days to research and learn about, you can now pull up on the internet in minutes.

As they say, “everybody’s an expert.” Still, just because you CAN do something on your own, most certainly does not mean that you SHOULD. You can invest loads of your money in the stock market on your own, but you probably should consult with an experienced professional for advice. You can pull out your own aching tooth, but you probably should let a trained and licensed dentist perform the procedure.

When there is high potential for things to go wrong, these are the situations where DIY may not be the best approach. The risk is simply too high.

This is usually the case when it comes to an IRS audit. There is no law that requires you to hire an attorney to assist you when you get audited by the IRS, but we highly recommend it.

Facing an IRS audit on your own can be a highly risky prospect. First, there is the high potential that you will simply share too much information or make some other detrimental mistake. IRS auditors are going to ask you a lot of questions about your finances, and being the good and helpful citizens that we are, most people tend to go above and beyond in sharing information about themselves. This can trigger the IRS to look at numerous other aspects of your taxes when they were originally only interested about one particular discrepancy.

Think of it as the Fifth Amendment of audits. You should never lie, but there is also no need to self-incriminate yourself. A skilled tax attorney will have a better understand of exactly what the IRS is trying to figure out and be able to limit the information you provide to exactly what the IRS needs, and only that.

And on the subject of an attorney interacting with the IRS on your behalf, another danger of handling an IRS audit on your own is the danger of wasted time. Audits can be complex, and issues with bureaucracy, red tape, and IRS inefficiency can cause your audit to drag out over a long period of time. Who has time to be spending hours addressing IRS audit issues? An attorney will handle nearly all of the necessary interactions with the IRS on your behalf and minimize your involvement to the fullest extent possible.

Finally, mistakes in the audit process can be incredibly costly. Particularly if you have never been audited by the IRS before, you will probably have no idea how to properly prepare yourself, increasing the potential to make a mistake increase exponentially. An experienced tax attorney will have been through the audit process numerous times before, and will understand exactly how to prepare and properly handle the audit. Considering the legal and financial issues and IRS audit can lead to, this type of knowledge and experience is a priceless tool when it comes to surviving your audit.

You are most certainly allowed to face an IRS audit on your own, but that DIY spirit may serve you better on home improvement projects than facing tax issues. If you are struggling with tax issues and potentially facing an IRS audit, contact the law office of Morgan Maxwell today and let us fight to protect your rights and ensure your audit goes as smoothly as possible.

Written by E. Morgan Maxwell

E. Morgan Maxwell

Since beginning his own firm, Mr. Maxwell has continued a tax-law oriented practice encompassing a wide range of transactions, planning and dispute resolution. His dispute resolution experience includes involvement at all levels of the Internal Revenue Service (Examinations, Appeals, Collections, Office of Professional Responsibility, the U.S. Tax Court), the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, the Tax Litigation Section of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Common Pleas Court and local taxing jurisdictions in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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