The Difference Between an IRS Field, Office and Correspondence Audit
If you are audited by the IRS, the audit will either be a field, office or correspondence audit. You should not represent yourself in an audit; you should hire a CPA, Tax Attorney or Tax Preparer to represent you. Remember…the IRS has the right to audit a return within three years from the due date or filing date.Here are the three different types of audits:
Field Audit—a field audit is done at the taxpayer's place of business. The taxpayer, however, can request a change in venue for the audit. Frequently, the request is to have the audit done at the taxpayer’s CPA's office. The request is usually granted. By having the audit offsite, there is less disruption to the business. However, the IRS still reserves the right to visit the taxpayer's place of business.
Office Audit—an office audit is conducted at the local IRS office. This type of audit typically involves one or two items on the return that may be in question. You will need to bring all of your books and records to the IRS office.
Correspondence Audit—as the name implies, the correspondence audit is done through the mail. These tend to be, although not always, routine matters that can be handled through the mail. This might seem like the preferred audit to many. It's not to me. By definition, with a correspondence audit, you won't be meeting with an auditor face-to-face. Sometimes this can work against the taxpayer and their representative. Whichever audit you get, remember to subscribe to the Boy Scouts motto, "Be Prepared."
ACTION ITEM: Certainly no one likes to be audited. If you are audited, it will either be a field, office or correspondence audit. Understand what to expect with each of them.
Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP®