The Process of Appealing an IRS Audit

Stamp IRS audit and accounting documents.

Finding out that you are facing an IRS tax audit can be overwhelming and frightening, even if you are confident that you have nothing to hide. Knowing the IRS may blow the smallest of mistakes out of proportion can instantly leave your stomach in a knot. You may start to doubt everything you have kept track of and wonder what you should be doing during an IRS audit. Before panicking, it is important that you take a deep breath and realize that an audit report is not the final ruling, only the proposal of what the auditor believes to be a valid assessment of the facts. You have the chance to appeal their decision,, contest their claims, and share your side of the story.

However, without a seasoned San Diego IRS tax lawyer by your side throughout the process, it can be much more difficult to clear your name. That is why having representation and counsel during this time is so crucial.

How to Appeal Your IRS Audit Report

When the IRS auditor believes they have all the information they need, they will finish the audit and send what is known as an examination report. In this report, the details of what the auditor found will be listed, including any proposed adjustments to your tax return and any amount they believe is owed. Once you have received this, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the IRS wherein you dispute any of the auditor’s findings.

When you file the appeal, it should be in writing and sent back within the given timeframe. Make sure you also get proof of mailing just in case. An IRS appeals officers will review your reasons for contesting the report and may set up a hearing. If they believe there are incorrect findings, they have the power to erase them.

Second Chances: Notice of Deficiency

What happens if you don’t respond to the examination report in time? You still have another chance to appeal. The IRS should send a second notice, known as a notice of deficiency. This document is very similar to the first, detailing the changes that the IRS is proposing to your tax return. The difference, however, is that instead of filing an appeal to meet with an IRS appeals officer, your case will be heard by the U.S. Tax Court.

You will have 90 days to file a complaint (or petition) with the Tax Court detailing why you believe the audit report was incorrect. Following this, the Tax Court will set a case for trial. If you do not go to court within the 90 days, the audit will become final, with the IRS making the report official. This means they can start collecting the money you allegedly owe.

Whether you go through Tax Court or an IRS appeals officer, the end goal of an appeal/complaint is to settle your case fairly. If you are ready to pursue the process of appealing your report, contact our San Diego IRS tax audit attorneys.