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21 IRS Audit Red Flags

September 27, 2021

From the Kiplinger website

You may be wondering about your chances that the IRS will audit your return. Most people can breathe easily because the vast majority of individual returns escape the audit machine. The IRS audited only 0.4% of all individual tax returns in 2019. Over 70% of these audits were handled solely by mail, meaning taxpayers never met with an IRS agent in person. And the individual audit rate was even lower for 2020.

But this doesn’t mean it’s a tax cheat free-for-all. The bad news is that your chances at the unenviable audit lottery escalate (sometimes significantly) depending on various factors, including the complexity of your return, the types and amounts of deductions or other tax breaks you claim, whether you’re engaged in a business, or whether you own foreign assets. Math errors could also draw an extra look from the IRS, but they usually don’t lead to a full-blown exam. In the end, there’s no sure way to predict an IRS audit, but these 21 red flags could certainly increase your chances of drawing unwanted attention from the IRS.

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