Ten Ways to Invite a Tax Audit

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When most taxpayers file their tax returns for the previous year, they send them with a hope that they made no mistakes and that the only additional communication they will receive from the IRS is a refund, if they're due one. Yet, millions of taxpayers will hear from the IRS because they made a common, human-error mistake or if their returns show less income than the records filed by their employers and financial institutions.

The National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP) has developed a list of ten common ways to invite a tax audit and attract the attention of the IRS. Follow these practices at your own peril:

  1. Math errors. Arithmetic or transferring numbers incorrectly is the most common error taxpayers make on their returns.
  2. Forgetting to report some interest and/or dividends.
  3. Incorrect tracking of investment basis. In addition, this step is often calculated incorrectly resulting in double taxation on dividends or capital gains that were reinvested into stock.
  4. Using the wrong tax tables or tax table amount.
  5. Forgetting to include all of the necessary forms.
  6. Omitting social security numbers.
  7. Forgetting to have all of the proper signatures in all of the proper places.
  8. Making the check out incorrectly or forgetting to sign it. (Checks need to be payable to the United States Treasury, not to the IRS.)
  9. Not using the preprinted label or the envelope provided with the return.
  10. Missing the deadline to file a return or request an extension.

The NATP reminds taxpayers that tax professionals are accustomed to handling tax returns and are familiar with errors that invite audit, thereby taking measures to reduce them. For help in finding a qualified tax preparer, NATP can help. Visit them at http://www.taxprofessionals.com.

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