How Long Does an IRS Audit Usually Take?

Well it depends. So the first thing it depends on is it depends on what the IRS is looking at and how technical it is. If they think you've unreported income and you submit bank statements showing you didn't and you don't have a situation that suggests that you're using a lot of cash, the audit can get done pretty quickly. Consequently if you were under examination for expenses and the auditor has to dig through a bunch of receipts and reconcile things to make sure that you're producing income appropriate or for producing expenses appropriately, then you could be in for a long haul. So it varies but the problem that we see the most often is once an auditor gets into an audit, they tend to dig and they tend to fish around so ideally the audit process shouldn't last more than meeting the auditor. The auditor issues a document, requests you provide all the information, the auditor may have some follow-up information that they need based on that first meeting, you produce it in a second meeting and then that really should end

of the line of questioning and you should be able to get down to brass tacks pretty quickly in about two meetings. If you're in an audit for six months or a year and you've had multiple meetings on a subject that's a sign that something is seriously wrong with your audit. Even more than one meeting in a lot of cases is a sign that something is serious. It's either a failure of preparation, a failure to control the auditor and to get them to focus on the audit. And so what I would recommend is go into the audit having a plan. Have a very clear path of the way this is going to go. Talk to the auditor, develop an audit plan and then execute accordingly on that audit plan. Keep things in line. As long as you're producing things and as long as they're accurate, you really don't have too much to worry about if you keep the auditor in the line of the plan. It's where the auditor starts to deviate from the plan that things go awry so the goal in any IRS audit is not just to pay as little as possible but it's to just shorten the amount of time that you're under examination. So the audit should move very quickly, you should move according to plan and they should be chugging along as quickly as possible to get them over with as soon as possible.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law