If you are ever subject to an audit, the IRS may want to interview you and ask you some questions. You are not personally required to attend an interview with the IRS unless you are issued a summons to appear. It is common practice to have your legal representative attend the interview instead. However, if you wish to attend an audit interview, we will explain some tips below.
IRS Audit Interview Rights
Without a summons issued to the taxpayer by the IRS, an interview is simply voluntary. You have the right at any point during the interview process to ask to discontinue questioning and leave without further information. If your legal representative attends the interview, do not hesitate to ask for a break so you can consult about a particular subject you are not comfortable with.
Outline The Interview Upfront
You should explain to the agent interviewing you how you wish the interview to be conducting and precisely the topics you wish to discuss. If at any point during the interview the agent goes off into another area that you did not outline from the beginning, simply tell him you are not prepared to discuss the topic.
Set A Time Limit
After you have explained the various topics you wish to discuss with the IRS agent, you may set a time limit. Explain that you only feel comfortable with the time limit you are requesting and that if further information is needed you will provide it at a later date.
Tips For A Successful Audit Interview
If you wish to conduct an interview with the IRS then it is important that you remember a few tips before going in. These tips are very simple but crucial in the interview process. Write them down and keep them near to you during the interview if you need to.
1. Do not volunteer information. If a question is asked about a specific topic, give a specific answer to the question and nothing more. Do not go into other subjects and situations that are not relevant to the question asked.
2. You must not argue with the agent who is interviewing you.
3. You must never lie to the agent who is interviewing you.
4. You must never threaten the agent who is interviewing you.
5. If you bring legal representation along with you, pause after each question to give time for your associate to object or respond to the question.
6. Do not hesitate to ask for a recess from the interview to discuss something with your legal representation or take a breather.
7. If you feel unease, upset or intimidated simply ask for a break to clear your head.
8. If after you answer a question the IRS agent does not respond, do not say anything else. It may seem like they are waiting for more information, do not give it to them.
Word Of Warning
It is best practice to never attend an audit interview alone. You must always have legal representation accompany you or send them to represent you. Do not underestimate the IRS in their ability to extract information from you that you did not intend to share in the first place. Even a simple sentence can change the course of an audit and leave you much worse off than you were before.
If you believe that you have committed some kind of tax crime, it is best to seek the help of a tax attorney. Anything that you say in an interview can be used against you later in court. It is important that you understand your rights from the beginning and not make your life harder by volunteering information to the IRS.