What is a 'Field Audit'

A field audit is a comprehensive tax audit conducted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at either the taxpayer's home, place of business or accountant's office, so they can examine your individual or business financial records to ensure you filed your tax return accurately.

BREAKING DOWN 'Field Audit'

A field audit differs from a correspondence audit in that it is conducted in person rather than by mail, by an IRS Revenue Agent who will review your tax records for a particular year.It lasts from one day to a week, depending on the size of the taxpayer’s business.

Field audits are typically scheduled for more complicated audits and can be extremely intrusive. When auditing businesses, the revenue agent will also interview employees about the key operations of the business, including processes, accounting procedures, management structure and internal controls.

It is really important to be represented by a tax attorney – and/or the individual who prepared and filed the tax return — at the time of the audit, especially if there have been any understatements of income, overstatements of deductions or if your tax return contained false or misleading information. The penalties for a field audit that turns up errors or fraud, include payment of additional taxes, liens on property, fines, garnishment, criminal investigations and court hearings. Most attorneys will advise you to keep answers as simple as possible and never offer additional information, as that could allow the agent to expand the scope of the audit.

Once the IRS selects your case for audit, the IRS has 28 months to complete the audit, from the date the audited taxpayer filed the tax return, or the date it was due, whichever is later.

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