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What An IRS Agent In A Civil Tax Audit Considers Before Referring You For Criminal Investigation

IRS auditors are trained to spot common types of deception and attempts to defraud the Federal government. Any of these acts are called “Badges Of Fraud”. Now the IRS in an audit expects to find a few errors on a tax return and I would agree that a little bit of fudging here or there is not going to send a taxpayer to jail—it might not even raise an eyebrow. But during the course of the audit, errors will be corrected, deductions will be disallowed, unreported income added, and a new tax liability will arise possibly including a few penalties as well as interest.


But some taxpayers go too far. Their tax returns read like a fiction novel. Therefore, IRS auditors have been trained to spot hot issues common with of dishonest taxpayers.  Here are the major Badges Of Fraud auditors look for during the course of an examination:

Unreported Income.

When it comes to income, the auditor asks for all of your bank statements from all accounts. The auditor will match bank deposits to income declared on the tax return. If you have bank deposits from unexplained sources, you can be sure that the auditor will question this. The auditor will also look for concealment of bank accounts, brokerage accounts and other property. The auditor will also check for an excess of personal expenditures. For example, if you are spending $100,000 per year and only making $50,000 per year, the auditor will believe you are omitting an entire income stream from your tax return. The auditor will also check out internal information compiled by other departments of the IRS such as the IRS department which organizes data received from foreign banks to detect whether you have unreported foreign bank accounts.

Overstated Deductions.

If you fudge in the area of expenses or deductions, it could be explained as simply making a best estimate rather than totaling receipts. But if there is a substantial overstatement of deductions, it will set off alarms. Some taxpayers attempt to deduct personal expenses as business expenses or claim fictitious deductions. This will only cause an auditor to dig deeper and possibly want to open other tax years for examination.

Self-Employed Taxpayers.

If you are self-employed, the auditor may cut the audit short if you keep a good set of books on a computerized software system or a set of books maintained by an outside bookkeeping service or accounting firm. But if you do not keep books, or the auditor discovers that you are keeping two sets of books, you will subject yourself to more scrutiny.  Other badges of fraud in this area include false entries, backdated or postdated documents and false invoices. And of course if you refuse to make records available or if your books and records don’t match income and expenses reported on the tax return you will send up a red flag. The auditor will also check for improper allocations of income. For example, a distribution of profits to fictitious partners or shareholders, or including your income or deductions in the return of a related taxpayer to optimize your own tax liability.

Questionable Transfers Of Assets.

Auditors also look for the transfer of assets for purposes of concealment or diversion of funds and/or assets by officials or trustees. They can tap into public records and your State’s Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in order to discover assets you may attempt to hide.

Social Media.

Auditors have also been known to look at your activity on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter to gather information on your lifestyle and major transactions like vacations, jewelry and extravagant social celebrations which they will incorporate in a cost-of-living analysis to determine if you under-reported your income.

The penalties for criminal tax fraud are very serious. They range up to 5 years in jail, plus fines of up to $500,000, plus the costs of prosecution for each separate tax crime. Once the criminal tax case is completed CID will refer the case back to the IRS Examination Division where the taxes will be assessed, and the IRS can be expected to add on the civil tax fraud penalty, on top of any criminal tax fraud fines.

Whether and when to answer questions from the IRS, or whether to stand on your 5th Amendment rights, are questions that only a tax fraud lawyer can help you answer. Your financial well being, as well as your personal freedom may depend on the right answers. If you or your accountant even suspects that you might be subject to a criminal or civil tax fraud penalty, the experienced tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego and elsewhere in California can determine how to respond to these inquiries and formulate an effective strategy.

Description: Working with a tax attorney lawyer is the best way to assure that your freedom is protected and to minimize any additional amount you may owe to the IRS.

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