Everybody hates paying taxes. Part of this ( besides the obvious hatred of forking over income) comes from fear of the IRS and of being audited. However, you don’t have to be afraid of this if you put safeguards into place. Here are 6 reasons why the IRS might audit you, as well as ways  that you can put that fear to rest.

1. Not reporting all your income: report it all!

A really simple way to gain the attention of the IRS and its auditing system is to report income differently on your return than the people who pay it to you report it. The people who pay you do so on both 1099’s and W2’s. The IRS will reconcile the payers’ numbers with your numbers, and when they can’t, you run the chance of audit. Be sure to save all of your important tax documents and report all of your income.

2.Using a questionable tax preparer

An audit isn’t always your fault. Sometimes, it comes from using a tax preparer who is questionable in their ethics. If a preparer promises unusually high refunds or doesn’t require the typical documentation in order to complete your return, don’t work with them. This is more than likely a scam and they may be trying to shirk the system.

3.Don’t make mistakes on your return.

Your taxes are one of those things in life where you want to be as close as possible to perfection. Proper documentation, clear information and precise data entry is crucial to the success of your filing. It seems like a silly way to get audited, but if your numbers don’t match the numbers the IRS has on file, it raises a red flag. You must remember, you hold legal responsibility for the information on your return, no matter if you prepare it yourself or you use a tax preparer. In addition, mathematical errors will automatically bring you to the attention of the IRS’s auditing protocols. No matter whether you do the filing yourself or have someone else do it, double check the work.

4. Track your charitable giving

When you give large amounts of money to charity or you write charitable contributions, you will want to track this carefully.Not only should you be careful to accurately asses your charitable donations but you should do it properly by filling out the appropriate documentation. These kind of contributions are among the most common to make discrepancies within. Like document matching, discrepancies for charitable write-offs typically lead to a letter from the IRS asking for additional documentation. Provide this to the IRS and you are good to go. Don’t and you might have to suffer IRS wrath.

5) Don’t forget to file your taxes!

Point blank: file your taxes or get in trouble.

The IRS has ways to identify people who don’t file returns and are supposed to. To avoid a confrontation, it’s better to simply file. If you need accommodations, the IRS is happy to do this. But it will hurt you more in the long run if you avoid them because you might be late with payments or have a hardship. Possible remedies to a situation like this are payment plans, extensions and possible deferments.

6. Be ethical or keep your mouth closed.

Sometimes, people fall through the cracks. Like every system, people sometimes get away with things with the IRS and it never sees the light of day. If this happens to you, I have a couple of suggestions.

First, be ethical. Do not try to fraudulently get away with something with the IRS. Odds are, you will not get away with it. Second, if you do happen to get away with something, do not tell anyone. The IRS offers a reward of 30% of any additional tax or penalties owed for whistleblowers. Often times, the IRS finds out about these types of situations from people who ratted out their friends or enemies. Don’t share your personal information with anyone or post it to social media. It may come back to bite you.
Follow these simple guidelines and the IRS will be your friend. Don’t and you might find yourself in the midst of a very uncomfortable audit.