What Is the Best Strategy to Take When Being Audited?

So the first thing that we say to our clients is that you have the advantage in an audit. Number one, you're the taxpayer and number two, you have access to all the documents so the government is put in a position where they're asking you for records. You have the opportunity to control both the scope of the information that's being provided and to control what information you provide so you're controlling the scope and you get to edit out within that scope what actually gets provided. You have a lot of choice. What I tell our team is "you can't control bad cards." So for example if a tax return is unreported by $100,000 in income, you're probably not going to be able to hide that but the advantage that you get in an audit is you can control the order in which the cards are being dealt. So the very first thing that we do in an audit is we like to know why the taxpayer has been audited. We look at the return and then we go through a pre audit, so we put the tax return through the same level of scrutiny. We're actually using more scrutiny than what the IRS is going to put it through so we're looking for issues that could come up. We're determining whether things are a big deal, a little deal or not a deal at all and so we're actively looking at those issues and we're pre-screening things. Once we pre-screen things, then we develop an audit strategy and this has nothing to do with the IRS. This has to do with how are we going to present

the audit to the auditor when the time comes. So for example in a case of somebody under reporting $100,000 in income, the first question is the order they're going to find it. The auditor is going to find it so there's no reason to try and hide. It's to the advantage of the client in that situation to just come out and admit that there's been $100,000 underreporting. The reason for that is by coming out in the beginning and saying that, you're going to avoid all the penalties. You're going to avoid all the presumptions that the auditor has that this been done fraudulently and you're going to get yourself out of much more than you would by trying to hide the ball. If there are things that you can hide from the auditor, then you're going to present things strategically. So for example if you're missing receipts, then you'll provide a general sample or if one tax year looks better than the other, you'll present the 18 data versus the 17 data or vice-versa. So the audits are a fluid strategy but by pre auditing a tax return, by organizing the material appropriately and then controlling the presentation, you're going to have a much higher success rate. The most important thing that you can do from in an audit from a strategic perspective is to control the flow of information, control the pace of the audit and to move the auditor through the playing field as you think they should move not to have them dictate how the audit goes .


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law