Friday, March 28, 2008

Tips to avoid the dreaded tax audit

The odds of any individual taxpayer being audited are low, but who wants to go through explaining to the Internal Revenue Service why you took this particular deduction or you didn't report that particular bit of income?

Tax experts say there are things taxpayers should do -- or not do -- to stay out of trouble with the nation's top tax collection agency as the April 15 tax deadline looms.

"Basically, if you've included all your income, have documentation for your deductions and your computations are correct, you should be fine," said Edward Smith, a Boston, Massachusetts-based tax partner with BDO Seidman LLP.

That said, Smith points out that there are some groups more likely to get caught up in IRS audits than others, such as self-employed business people who may have extensive expense write-offs or wealthy families with complex investments.

The IRS said that in 2007, it audited nearly 1.4 million individual tax returns, or about 1 in 100 of total returns. But wealthier taxpayers, specifically those with $1 million or more in income, had a 1-in-11 chance of being audited, and audits of businesses and partnerships have been increased, it said.

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