What Rights do Californians Have During a Tax Audit?

On behalf of Brian Coggins of Coggins Law, P.C. posted in IRS on Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

Receiving an audit notice from the IRS can make anyone's heart drop because it typically means that an auditor will soon go through your financial records with a fine tooth comb, trying to determine why your reported financial information does not match the IRS's records. In many cases, taxpayers feel helpless during the audit process because they think they have no other choice. But in actuality, taxpayers have a lot more rights than they think they do.

For starters, you have the right to all information concerning your audit, including how the process will proceed, what information the IRS needs, what that information will be used for and what legal remedies are available if a taxpayer does not agree with the IRS. Taxpayers also have the right to clear explanations given in a courteous manner and the right to challenge the IRS's position.

A taxpayer should know that they also have the right to confidentiality and privacy during the audit process. Taxpayers have the right to expect fair treatment under the tax code and should not have to pay more than the correct tax amount.

The IRS must tell a taxpayer how long they have to challenge an audit as well as when the audit will be finished. A taxpayer wholeheartedly has the right to appeal a decision and may do so in court if they so choose.

Most importantly though is the fact that taxpayers in California have the right to obtain legal counsel from a skilled tax attorney prior to the execution of an audit as well as for an appeal. In fact, a lawyer can be present the entire time an audit is taking place, affording more protection over the taxpayer rights than they would otherwise be able to provide on their own.

Source: The Internal Revenue Service, "Your Rights as a Taxpayer," Accessed Aug. 19, 2015