The IRS will charge you with a failure-to-pay penalty, which is usually 0.5% of your unpaid tax. The failure-to-pay penalty will be applied monthly until your taxes are paid in full.
The average cost of a tax attorney for IRS audit defense
On average, a Brotman Law tax audit representation costs between $3,500 and $10,000 per tax year for most audit defenses against the IRS.
If the audit reveals that you owe money, and you have no way to pay, then the IRS will start looking into your assets. If you own your vehicle, they can seize it, sell it, and apply the funds to your tax debt.
Simple Audits: For a simple audit, the cost is typically $2,000 to $3,000. A simple audit is one that does not involve a Schedule C business or rental property. It usually focuses on Schedule A items, such as unreimbursed employee expenses or charitable contributions.
While the IRS does not pursue criminal tax evasion cases for many people, the penalty for those who are caught is harsh. They must repay the taxes with an expensive fraud penalty and possibly face jail time of up to five years.
If there's one thing American taxpayers fear more than owing money to the IRS, it's being audited. But before you picture a mean, scary IRS agent busting into your home and questioning you till you break, you should know that in reality, most audits aren't actually a big deal.
The IRS usually starts these audits within a year after you file the return, and wraps them up within three to six months. But expect a delay if you don't provide complete information or if the auditor finds issues and wants to expand the audit into other areas or years.
Generally, IRS audits only go back two or three years.
Fortunately, you don't need to worry about that happening. According to the IRS, most tax audits are regarding returns filed within the last three years. If they find a substantial error, they may add more years.
Audit trends vary by taxpayer income. In recent years, IRS audited taxpayers with incomes below $25,000 and those with incomes of $500,000 or more at higher-than-average rates. But, audit rates have dropped for all income levels—with audit rates decreasing the most for taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more.
How long does an IRS audit take to complete? Now for the answer to the all too familiar question every tax attorney gets: “How long does a tax audit take?” The IRS audit period itself should generally take no more than five to six months. Sometimes with proper preparation, they can be resolved faster.
Generally, the IRS can include returns filed within the last three years in an audit. If we identify a substantial error, we may add additional years. We usually don't go back more than the last six years. The IRS tries to audit tax returns as soon as possible after they are filed.
In general, no, you cannot go to jail for owing the IRS. Back taxes are a surprisingly common occurrence. In fact, according to 2018 data, 14 million Americans were behind on their taxes, with a combined value of $131 billion!
And for good reason—failing to pay your taxes can lead to hefty fines and increased financial problems. But, failing to pay your taxes won't actually put you in jail. In fact, the IRS cannot send you to jail, or file criminal charges against you, for failing to pay your taxes.
Generally, if you fail an audit, you get hit with a bigger tax bill. The IRS finds that you didn't pay the correct amount of taxes so it utilizes the audit to recover them. In addition to penalties, you're required to pay the additional taxes as well as the interest on those taxes.
Does the IRS Catch All Mistakes? No, the IRS probably won't catch all mistakes. But it does run tax returns through a number of processes to catch math errors and odd income and expense reporting.
You Claimed a Lot of Itemized Deductions
It can trigger an audit if you're spending and claiming tax deductions for a significant portion of your income. This trigger typically comes into play when taxpayers itemize.
Typically, the IRS audits less than 1% of all tax returns filed in a fiscal year. For example, the IRS audited 0.6% of all individual tax returns filed in 2017 and 0.9% of corporate income tax returns, excluding returns from S corporations, or S-corps.
Red flags may include excessive write-offs compared with income, unreported earnings, refundable tax credits and more. “My best advice is that you're only as good as your receipts,” said John Apisa, a CPA and partner at PKF O'Connor Davies LLP.
Most audits end with adjustments to reported income. That generally means you'll owe more tax, but occasionally you'll even get a refund.
If you deliberately fail to file a tax return, pay your taxes or keep proper tax records – and have criminal charges filed against you – you can receive up to one year of jail time. Additionally, you can receive $25,000 in IRS audit fines annually for every year that you don't file.
However, there's always the possibility that you could face an audit, and, if you're found to have misrepresented your income, tax audit penalties can be serious. Consequences range from stiff fines to criminal charges, and you could be buried under a mountain of paperwork.
What Are the Chances of Being Audited? Americans filed just over 157 million individual tax returns in fiscal 2020. In the same year, the IRS completed 509,917 audits, making your overall odds of being audited roughly 0.3% or 3 in 1,000. IRS audits are conducted by mail and in person.
The Short Answer: Yes. The IRS probably already knows about many of your financial accounts, and the IRS can get information on how much is there. But, in reality, the IRS rarely digs deeper into your bank and financial accounts unless you're being audited or the IRS is collecting back taxes from you.