Just consider for a moment who's sitting on the other side of the table from you if you're cloistered in a room with an Internal Revenue Service employee undergoing a tax examination.
First, let's call that event what it really is: an audit.
And, while you are a lay person, the IRS person you're dealing with is a trained examiner, which is reason enough to not underestimate his or her acumen and abilities. As noted in a recent media overview of the IRS audit process, "Compared to his skills, you are an amateur."
That online primer presents a few so-called "don'ts" that delve into behaviors needed to be avoided during a tax audit.
Here's one: Do not walk in unprepared. An audit is an important matter, so the admonition to not "dump a paper bag in the auditor's face" is advice not to be ignored.
So, too, is this tip: The auditor is not your friend, so stifle any inclination to get chatty about financial and tax matters.
We note on our Alameda County tax law website at the Law Offices of Connie Yi, PC, that many people being audited tend to feel frightened and overwhelmed when facing an auditor.
And those are understandable feelings, of course. It's foreign terrain. It's not high-comfort subject matter. The stakes can be high.
But holding the view that the IRS holds all the cards and can act unilaterally during an audit is simply not true. Agency personnel must act in accordance with relevant laws, and their decisions must be grounded in reason.
We regularly represent individuals and businesses in IRS audits, advocating on their behalf and promoting their interests. Often, there are multiple solutions that can work to the advantage of a client during an audit, and we fully explore them.
We welcome readers' questions concerning IRS audits or other tax-related matters, and stand ready always to safeguard clients' legal rights when they interact with tax authorities.