If the IRS comes calling, you will probably wonder whether you should simply surrender or put up a fight. While listening to your gut instincts could help, you’ll definitely want to think your next moves through before taking action — or inaction.
In How to Fight the IRS ,The Wall Street Journal warns against several “dumb moves” people sometimes make when the IRS audits their federal tax returns. These moves could end up getting you into more trouble or, at the very least, won’t help your case.
Here’s a breakdown of the worst things you can do next:
1. Hire a bad tax preparer. This first mistake is really something you need to avoid the next time you do your taxes. You could end up in more trouble than it’s worth by hiring someone who promises to get you a bigger refund than anyone else, asks you to sign a blank tax return, or charges you a fee based on a percentage of how much you save or get back in taxes. If you see any of these red flags, take your tax forms elsewhere.
2. Simply ignore the IRS in the hope they’ll go away. Do not ignore IRS notices and letters. They will not go away. The BEST thing you can do is maintain regular communication with the IRS during the entirety of your tax audit, and respond professionally and on time. The IRS is very serious about deadlines. Keep a copy of your correspondence and your records organized.
3. Make frivolous arguments. Judges will be annoyed if you try to make frivolous arguments for failing to pay taxes or not paying them correctly. They will think you are stalling and may end up imposing a stiffer penalty in the end. Trying to say you don’t have to pay taxes on tips or other income for personal services, saying you are a resident of a state but not the United States, or that it is voluntary to file a federal tax return will get you nowhere.
4. Bribery. This is probably the dumbest thing you can do. It is also dangerous. You could end up in jail. Don’t do it.
5. Immediately surrender. When the IRS tells you that you owe them money, it may seem easier to just give in rather than take the time to try to fight, but the IRS might be wrong. Just because they say you owe a certain amount, doesn’t mean they are right. Before giving in, get help. Make sure you thoroughly investigate the tax issue in question and go over your records. If you are confident you are correct and have all your records to prove it, you could steel yourself for the battle and move forward in the fight.