This is a common question among many taxpayers.

The fact of the matter is there is really nothing that can be done to avoid being selected for an audit.  However, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk of being audited.

A few items that encourage an IRS Audit are as follows:

  • Tax deductions that appear to be substantial compared to income.
    1. They may be legitimate but you will likely receive a request to provide proof of the deduction
    2. Large medical deductions could be the cause of a review as well
  • All numbers are rounded off
    1. If all of your deductions end in zero (i.e., 100, 500, 300), it’s a good indication that there are no receipts to confirm the amount reported
    2. Indicates exaggerated figures or poor record keeping
  • Repeated Schedule “ C” losses
    1. Schedule “C” losses 3 out of 5 years will generally be reviewed to determine if there is actually a legitimate business versus a hobby
    2. Schedule “C” losses reduce your overall tax liability as opposed to hobby income in which the expense is only deductible up to the amount of hobby income reported
  • Large cash contributions
    1. Contributions that seem excessive when compared to income reported
    2. Request for documentation may be received. Note: “Cash contributions” should be paid via check as opposed to cash for proper documentation should you face an audit.
  • An occupation in which cash are tips are normally received such as waiter, barber, hair stylist, etc.
    1. A review of these accounts would require documentation of cost of services rendered as well as amount of tips received.
    2. Unreported tips could cause an estimate of tips received and a re-calculation of the liability due

There are a number of “do it yourself” software programs available.  However, with the number of changes to the tax law annually, I would suggest having an experienced tax preparer file your return.  An experienced preparer will save you money in the long run – either with the reduced liability or the savings on the penalties due to returns filed in error.

Please take heed to the information shared in this blog post as a tool to help improve the way you handle your personal and business dealings; perhaps they will aid you in reducing the risk of being audited.

By Wanda Watson-Brown, Premier Business Solutions (

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