Fort Lauderdale Audit Protection Plan Lawyer Helping Clients Fight Back Against Tax Identity Fraud in Florida
Sometimes, even when you file all your tax returns on time and are all caught up on your taxes year after year, things can go off the rails. You may get audited by the IRS, or worse – you may find out someone else filed your taxes and that you are a victim of tax identity fraud. Learn what you should do in these situations and how an audit protection plan lawyer may be able to help.
How Do I Know if I Am a Victim of Tax Identity Fraud?
Unfortunately, tax identity fraud is on the rise, and the IRS has been dealing with a higher-than-normal tax identity fraud case volume since the pandemic started. There are a few red flags to look for to find out if you are a victim of tax identity fraud. Sometimes, the IRS may send you a letter inquiring about a suspicious tax return and asking you to confirm your identity. Another warning sign is when you attempt to file your tax return electronically and are unable to do so due to a duplicate social security number, which usually means someone used your social security number and filed a fraudulent return with your name on it.
You may also get a notice from the IRS saying that an online account has been created, or that an existing online account was accessed or disabled when you did not take any of these actions. Another red flag is receiving a letter from the IRS saying you owe additional tax or refund offset or that the IRS is seeking collection action against you for a tax year when you did not need to file a tax return. In addition, if your records contain inaccuracies such as wages reported from an employer you never worked for or if you received an Employer Identification Number (EIN) you never requested, you need to take action immediately to protect your tax identity and contact the IRS.
What Should I Do if Someone Filed a Fraudulent Tax Return With My Information?
The IRS is aware that fraud happens and can affect taxpayers in many ways, and they offer several alternatives to get you the help you need to protect your account. Your action steps to respond to a tax identity theft issue vary depending on whether you are notifying the IRS about it, or the IRS noticed that something was wrong and sent you an initial notice.
If you were unaware of any issues and the IRS sent you a letter as described above, it likely means that the Taxpayer Protection Program has identified a threat, and you are given the opportunity to let the IRS know if you filed the tax return in question or not. You will have 30 days to verify your identity following the instructions on the letter. This step may require you to submit a photo identification and a copy of the prior-year tax return to confirm your identity. You will then inform the IRS about whether the tax return they received was filed by you (which means they will process it as always) or if it is fraudulent (which means it will be removed from the system, and you may have to file a paper return). If you are notifying the IRS about the issue, you will likely need to file a form called Identity Theft Affidavit. Once the IRS receives your form, they will assign your case to a specialist from their Identity Theft Victim Assistance organization. The IDTVA employee will work with you to research what happened, resolve your case, and may add you to a program such as the Identity Protection PIN program, which helps safeguard your account by providing you a different six-digit PIN every year. You can also recruit the help of a tax attorney to represent you through the process of resolving your tax identity theft problem with the IRS.
What Is an IRS Audit and Why Am I Being Selected for One?
The other issue you may eventually face with the IRS is an Audit. An audit is a review of the information submitted by an individual or organization to ensure everything is reported in accordance with tax laws, that all numbers are accurate and that the reported amount of tax has no errors. The IRS may conduct a mail audit, a field audit, or an in-office audit.
A mail audit is handled through letters and may simply say you owe the IRS more money than you paid or may ask for documents to support your deductions. An in-office audit may require you to come to your local IRS office for an interview. A field audit takes place when an IRS auditor comes to your home, office, or place of business to examine your records, especially when submitting those records by mail or electronically is impractical or not possible. If you have been asked to do an in-person type of audit, you may request that your CPA or tax attorney be present to assist you and respond to the auditor’s questions.
Many audits are the result of what the IRS calls a ‘random selection and computer screening’, which means the IRS computers compare your tax return against certain norms established for similar returns, and if something seems unusual or inaccurate, your return is flagged to be examined by an auditor. Taxpayers whose returns are selected for an audit are always contacted by mail – beware of scams, as the IRS will never call you about an audit.
Common triggers for audits often include failure to report all of your income, making questionable business deductions or claiming losses year after year, not submitting supporting documentation to claim certain tax credits, making simple math errors, or not reporting foreign accounts. Audits seem like a scary process, but in some cases (such as math errors), you are simply asked to correct the mistake or accept the resolution offered by the IRS.
What Do I Need to Do if I Am Being Audited by the IRS?
Audits are carried out by mail or through an in-person interview (in some cases). If you are being audited, the IRS will include in your letter more details about the documents and records you may have to provide. Examples of those records and documents may include receipts, bills, canceled checks, legal papers, loan agreements, medical or dental records, travel tickets, employment documents, logs and diaries, and theft or loss documents from your insurance company. If you need more time, you may submit a request for a 30-day extension by mail if your audit is being conducted by mail, but you may not be able to be granted an extension if you have already received a Notice of Deficiency from the IRS.
At the end of the audit, the IRS may find no change, meaning you were successful in backing up all the information on your tax return, and the IRS determined it was accurate, or it may conclude that you owe additional taxes. You can agree with the IRS and pay the additional tax, or you can disagree and file an appeal or request to speak with an IRS manager.
If you are being audited, you have the right to hire a professional to represent you throughout the process, and it may be in your best interest to do so. A tax attorney can help you prepare your response to the IRS and handle any questions the auditor may have.
Can I Hire a Fort Lauderdale Tax Attorney to Help Me With an Audit or Tax Identity Fraud?
Audits can be very scary and overwhelming for most people, especially if you are being audited for the first time and are nervous about what will happen. In this case, as a taxpayer, you have the right to be represented by a professional such as a tax attorney. The Law Office of Ray Haselman has helped many Fort Lauderdale residents solve their tax problems and get through IRS tax audits without any issues. In addition, Attorney Ray Haselman is also skilled in assisting clients who were victims of tax identity fraud.
The Law Office of Ray Haselman offers clients an Audit Protection Plan that includes full tax identity recovery and audit representation protection if you get any notice from the IRS. It will shield you from the time, money, and frustration you will undergo if you try to resolve these issues yourself. Our Audit Protection Plan gives you the peace of mind of knowing that if anything happens and you are audited or find yourself a victim of fraud, our knowledgeable legal team will provide legal representation and spring into action to help resolve your issues with professionalism and efficiency.
If you have been a victim of tax identity theft or were notified that the IRS is planning to audit your tax return, you need an audit protection plan lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. Contact the Law Office of Ray Haselman as soon as possible. Call 786-522-0410 and request a free initial consultation to discuss your case.