What is a Tax Audit? Complete Overview

A tax audit is a review of your financial information and accounts to ensure that you have reported your income and deductions correctly on your tax return. It is a way for the government to ensure that individuals and businesses are paying their fair share of taxes. While the mere mention of a tax audit can be daunting, it is important to understand what it is and how to prepare for it.

What is a Tax Audit?

A tax audit is a review of your financial records by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to ensure that you have reported all of your income and deductions accurately on your tax return. The IRS conducts audits in three ways:

1. Correspondence Audit –

A correspondence audit is the least serious type of audit, where the IRS sends you a letter asking for additional information to support your tax return.

2. Office Audit –

An office audit is more complex and is conducted at an IRS office. You will receive a letter from the IRS notifying you of the audit and asking you to bring specific documents with you to the office.

3. Field Audit –

A field audit is the most serious type of audit and is conducted at your home, business, or accountant’s office. It requires more preparation, as the IRS will need to review a larger volume of documents.

What Triggers a Tax Audit?

The IRS selects taxpayers for an audit based on several factors, including:

  • Discrepancies in your tax return
  • Unreported income or overreported deductions
  • High income
  • Claiming high-value deductions or credits
  • Running a cash business

Preparing for a Tax Audit

If you are selected for an audit, it is important to be prepared. Here are a few tips:

1. Review Your Tax Return –

Review your tax return and gather all of the supporting documents that you used to prepare your return.

2. Hire a Tax Professional –

Consider hiring a tax professional to represent you during the audit process. A tax professional can provide guidance, ensure that your rights are protected, and handle communication with the IRS.

3. Be Cooperative –

It is important to be cooperative during the audit process. Answer all questions truthfully and provide the requested information promptly.


A tax audit can be a stressful and time-consuming process, but it is important to understand what it is and how to prepare for it. By reviewing your tax return, hiring a tax professional, and being cooperative during the audit process, you can help ensure that the audit goes as smoothly as possible.

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