Most likely, at some point your client will receive a letter from Internal Revenue Services saying that they will be audited. Even though this shouldn’t be a scary thought for well-trained accountants, those who have never gone through the process before tend to forget some of the most essential things for a successful audit. So, what are some of the essentials to note before you go through your first IRS audit? Take a look at the following checklist and find out how prepared you are.

How well do you know your client?

If you know your client well enough, you should know if they have been good at keeping records, documents and receipts. If you are having trouble keeping track of the documents you should have before the audit, here is a list of what you might need:

  • Records of bills and receipts
  • Tax returns
  • Backup information from three years to now
  • Proof of bank accounts
  • Secondary records

When and where should the examination take place?

Once the IRS lets your client know he or she is being audited, there is no time to waste. If they give you a specific date, make sure to clear your schedule and be ready to be audited when they are. As for the location, many clients feel more comfortable at their home office rather than your office or their business place. However, keep in mind that the revenue agent could draw his own conclusions based on your client’s house, non-business items and standard of living in general.

Have you been honest with your client?

Once the day gets close, make sure to have an honest conversation with your client and let them know what you expect from the audit. In addition, ask for total honesty from them and be sure to know all the details about the taxes being returned and the source of each item.

Are you ready?

Before the audit, make sure to go back and review all the documents you need. The auditor will not appreciate a box of unorganized receipts and documents, so remember to have everything in place. In addition, try to avoid providing unnecessary documents that don’t affect your client’s income and could distract the agent’s attention from what really matters.

Every year, Surgent presents a variety of webinars that help accountants stay up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices within the profession. To attend a webinar and learn more about audits and other topics, visit

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