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Tax audits have changed in recent years

Most people across the country, including many here in Massachusetts, do not want to check their mail and see an envelope from the IRS. Rarely are these letters good news. Instead, they are often notices indicating that something is wrong or that the individuals receiving them are subject to tax audits.

The way that the IRS conducts tax audits has changed some in recent years. Many of them are done by mail instead of in person. In fact, approximately 75% of the audits conducted in 2018 were by mail. For this reason alone, it would be a mistake for a Massachusetts resident to ignore any correspondence from the IRS since it may be an audit request.

Half of audits conducted on individual income tax returns center on the claim of the Earned Income Credit. However, the agency has been criticized, as this gives the impression that the agency is targeting lower-income families. In any case, the use of this credit could put a taxpayer on the IRS' radar. Ignoring any correspondence from the agency regarding an audit for this or any other reason could mean an assessment of additional tax without the opportunity to challenge it.

Individuals who receive notification of tax audits by mail do not have to simply accept the determination of the IRS. There is a challenge and appeals process in place, and it would be wise to take advantage of it. Anyone who wants to do so would benefit from consulting with a tax attorney first in order to understand his or her rights and the appropriate way to respond.

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