What Happens if You Get Audited & Don’t Have Receipts for IRS?

There are actions you can take even without receipts when being audited by the IRS. We’ll discuss a few of them below.

The Internal Revenue Service checks thousands of taxpayer returns for accuracy every year. While bookkeeping and record-keeping challenge many taxpayers, what happens if you get audited and don't have receipts? The IRS audit is not a trial — more like a review, and honest mistakes won’t land you in jail.

Help! I’m being audited and don't have receipts

An audit letter from the Internal Revenue Service to taxpayers requests evidence to verify claims and ensure information accuracy. But the message is a nightmare for taxpayers with no receipts for IRS audit. The IRS ensures accuracy by asking taxpayers for evidence supporting expense deductions, even in a Schedule C audit no receipts situation.

What if you don't have receipts for taxes? This is a perfect time to seek tax audit representation from a tax pro, and we're here for you. We’ll guide you through the process and even through tax court if it comes to that, so there's no reason to hide from an audit or flee from the country. We'll discuss the situation more in-depth and teach you to claim expenses without receipts.

Can I claim expenses without a receipt?

Missing receipts for business expenses can trouble taxpayers, but the IRS requirements are flexible. This is especially true if you understand the business expenses and deductions you can claim while filing taxes, especially if you have no receipts or documentation.

The Cohan rule enables taxpayers to claim business expenses without receipt of purchase. But the Internal Revenue Service only allows taxpayers to claim deductions on genuine business expenses. Taxpayers benefit from several allowable expenses such as: marketing costs and insurance.

You can claim expenses spent on running your business without a receipts but cannot claim IRS deductions on personal costs. In an IRS audit no receipts situation, you cannot claim entertainment expenses, non-essential renovations, or charitable contributions not for your business purposes. Speak to an IRS audit lawyer if you're unsure what to claim as a business expense without receipts.

What happens if you get audited and don't have receipts?

Receipts and documentation supporting your case speed up the rigorous and time-consuming audit process with the Internal Revenue Service. But what happens if you don't have documents for IRS audit purposes? The Internal Revenue Service auditor may offer to verify your taxes with other information.

Revenue enrolled agents accept canceled checks, written records, bank account, debit and credit card statements, or other documentation as proofs for verification. If you get audited and don't have receipts or additional proofs? Well, the Internal Revenue Service may disallow your deductions for the expenses.

This often leads to gross income deductions from the IRS before calculating your tax bracket. Disallowed deductions puts many taxpayers in a new tax bracket, leading to higher tax payments for the year. Some cases with no receipts or documentation to support deductions can also result in tax penalties.

What to do when being audited by IRS and no receipts are available

Invoking the Cohan rule and recreating business expenses are ideal things to do when being audited by the IRS with no available receipt. Recreating business expenses without receipts to verify your taxes involves reaching out to old vendors, combing through bank statements, etc. There are various things to do when being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, and we'll discuss a few below.

  • Invoking the Cohan rule

    When being audited by the IRS with no receipt available, your first task is invoking the historical Cohan v Commissioner of Internal Revenue rule. While Cohan paid business expenses in cash, he defended many cases without receipts and claimed deductions on his returns after appealing the initial ruling in court.

    Thousands of business owners may not claim expenditures tax without a receipt or necessary documentation without this rule. Invoking the rule means you can claim certain business expenses without receipt of purchase. But the Internal Revenue Service states that these expenses have to be credible and reasonable.
  • Ask vendors for receipts
    The innovation of automated payment systems in small and large businesses helps taxpayers claim certain deductions without receipts. Consider finding copies of invoices and receipts by contacting past suppliers and business partners.

IRS agents
are very particular about receipts as they find them indispensable for tax-related issues. Ask past vendors to provide documentation of your previous transactions and send them to the IRS office. Old vendors and suppliers may charge a fee for issuing new receipts by retrieving your records.

  • Consult your appointment book or calendar

Consulting your calendar or appointment book may help you retrace your steps for clues on business expenses with missing receipts. Furthermore, you can find backup information about your services, clients, hospital bills, and travel without receipts in appointment books. Checking your calendar appointments for client meetings can help you recall where you made business purchases.

  • Review bank account statements
If you want to get accurate records of your business expenses without receipts, consider combing your bank statements and financial records. You'll find qualified expenses by reviewing your credit card and bank statements, as it contains payment records.
While records in your bank statements are not as detailed as receipts, they are evidence supporting the claims on income tax returns. Do not ignore canceled checks, as these documents further prove your claims and aid the Internal Revenue Service decision.

  • Check cell phone records and social media history

If you want to establish the date of offered services or business expenses, consider combing your phone records and social media apps history. You can find valuable information and evidence supporting your case on social media apps. Information on your social media and phone may help you retrace some business expenses, including travel, equipment purchase, development costs, etc.

What if I don't have receipts for capital improvements?

If the Internal Revenue Service audits you, agents may demand capital improvement receipts. The commission recognizes renovations improving the value of a home as a capital improvement, and IRS auditors usually require receipts. But what if you don't have receipts for IRS audit?  

If the renovation or sale of your principal residence is the reason for the IRS audit, but receipts are unavailable, you can claim tax deductions. However, the IRS does not recognize repairing a leak, changing door locks, or fixing a window as a capital improvement.

But you can claim a deduction on the sale of a home, including the commission for the real estate agent costs, advertising costs, escrow, and legal fees. Consider providing the transaction details as proof and evidence supporting your claim.

While the Internal Revenue Service prefers receipts as evidence, the property sale transaction information and renovation expenses can help your case. But there may be fines and penalties if you cannot provide details of the transaction to support your claim.

Reconsideration when you have no documentation for tax audit

Audit reconsideration is an Internal Revenue Service process enabling taxpayers to challenge tax return audit results. Consider requesting audit reconsideration if you have no documentation to support your claims or disagree with an IRS tax audit return. The audit reconsideration process protects taxpayers’ rights, especially those who don't owe the government additional taxes.

After concluding the audit process with the IRS, most taxpayers hire a legal representative to file for audit reconsideration. We'll discuss the process involved in requesting an audit reconsideration if you have no documentation for a tax audit.

1. Review the IRS tax audit report

When requesting an audit reconsideration, your first task is to review the attachments and report from the Internal Revenue Service. Consider examining the report for inconsistencies and gather your receipts. If you have no documentation or receipt for particular items, consider invoking the Cohan rule or recreating business expenses.
You can claim business expenses without receipts by retracing your steps by asking past vendors and suppliers for receipts. Furthermore, check your calendar and bank statements for additional information related to the expenses to support your case.
2. Send the available document to the IRS
Consider making photocopies of available documents after recreating business expenses or relying on reasonable estimates with the Cohan rule. Attach the photocopies to your audit reconsideration letter request.
The Internal Revenue Service recommends Form 12661 for taxpayers to provide a detailed explanation and items without documentation or receipt. Attach your tax audit review report with a document supporting your reasonable estimates or recreated business expenses.
Add a contact phone number and let revenue agents know when best to contact you. It will be best not to send original documents to the Internal Revenue Service as the commission may not return them.
3. Wait for a response
After sending organized records and available documents with a letter explaining your position, wait for the IRS response. If the commission requires further information to reconsider your case, you'll receive a letter indicating it. If revenue agents complete the review with the provided information, you'll receive a letter with any of the following decisions:
  • Information accepted

If you received this letter from the Internal Revenue Service, the commission accepted the provided evidence. The commission will remove the assessed tax to ensure accuracy.

  • Information partially accepted

This message means that the Internal Revenue Service does not accept every detail of the provided information. However, the commission will partially reduce the assessed tax and make recommendations without documentation or receipt.

  • The information does not support your claim

If you received a notice from the IRS indicating that the provided documents do not support your claim, the commission rejects the provided information. If they cannot support your claims, you cannot claim the taxes without the correct documentation. But you still have options to pay the amount in whole, initiate a court case or request an appeal conference.

Does the IRS verify receipts during audit processes?

When conducting an audit with the Internal Revenue Service, agents can request documentation and receipts to verify claims. With revenue agents accessing bank records of businesses and individuals during audits, does the IRS verify receipts? A receipt represents proof of payment for an item or service, and the IRS can become intensive and start probing if you cannot provide it.

The commission verifies receipts for accuracy during audit processes. If existing records don't substantiate items in your tax return, the Internal Revenue Service sends an audit notice requesting additional information to support your claims.

The commission will verify your receipts, whether you received a letter for a correspondence, field, office, or Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program (TMCP) audit. Consider sending the commission a photocopy of your receipt as the commission allow taxpayers to provide alternate documentation.

What happens if the IRS audit fake receipts and foul play is discovered?

If you file and submit fake receipts for tax returns or the Internal Revenue Service discovers any foul play in your documentation, there may be fines and penalties. The Internal Revenue Service rules clearly state that submitting fake receipts or fraudulent documentation will lead to disciplinary action for providers.

You may be subject to tax fraud jail time, criminal penalties, and interest based on the amount involved. Next we will discuss the more severe fines and penalties.

Fines and penalties

The Internal Revenue Service can detect foul play and fake receipts during an audit. If revenue agents or auditors catch you in a web of lies, there will be IRS audit penalties. In some cases, the agent can transfer your case to the IRS’s criminal investigation division for further investigation.

While anyone can make honest mistakes, the commission understands the thin line between fraud and negligence. Unintentional mistakes on your tax return may attract reduced penalties.

If the commission catches what seems to be intentional fraud, such as a taxpayer who submits fake receipts, an up to 75% interest penalty free can added to the tax bill.

For example, if you owe the government $10,000 before the commission detects fraud, you get to pay an additional $7,500 in penalties.

False Deductions

The most obvious way taxpayers deceive the IRS is through false deductions. Many taxpayers put officials on hold to claim additional deductions after the initial interview. Many taxpayers claim to remember other expenses and fabricate a list of items without supporting receipts. If revenue agents suspect this, they may consider adding IRS audit penalties if you cannot prove your case beyond reasonable doubt.

Income Fraud

Many taxpayers do not report their income to minimize their tax bill. While some taxpayers receive federal assistance or child support which are not taxable income, they also have outside jobs and omit reporting this income on their returns. These are examples of income fraud.

Likewise, a taxpayer lives in a mansion located in a Beverly Hills, California zipcode claiming to have made only $24,000 that year, will be waving an IRS red flag. Any taxpayer who is caught lying about real income on their tax return can expect fines and penalties.

Business vs. Personal Expenses

Evaluating personal and business expenses like office equipment and travel is another area the IRS finds people will trump up. Taxpayers who like to cheat are creative and may use fake receipts or dummy business entities in order to report false expenses.

Ignoring revenue agents’ requests for additional information to verify the numbers and not supplying the necessary information can also lead to fines.

Can I be prosecuted if I lost my receipts for my taxes?

Many taxpayers pursue and win cases against the Internal Revenue Service with additional documentation and receipts. But what if you lost receipts for audit use while preparing documentation for an in-person meeting with revenue agents?

The Internal Revenue Service may allow expense reconstruction, enabling taxpayers to verify taxes with other information. But the commission will not prosecute you for losing receipts.

The IRS may disallow deductions for items or services without receipts or only allow a minimum, even after invoking the Cohan rule. It could be a wiser course of action to seek legal counsel for a tax-audit-no-receipts situation with the IRS.

Need help surviving an IRS audit without receipts?

Do you need to claim deductions to survive an IRS audit without receipts? Brotman Law's experienced tax attorneys can help you to build a complete strategy to defend yourself and your business against the IRS.

Many people believe they can negotiate with the government independently or that the government shares their view of what is reasonable. This is completely untrue and, every year, many people fall into a trap that will cost them tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars. Contact us now for professional help and survive an IRS audit with – or without – receipts.