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Experience Level of IRS Auditors

Posted on | September 12, 2009 | No Comments

I went to a party the other day and asked a man to whom I had just been introduced, what he did.  His response was very telling.  He said, “Don’t get mad at me, but I have just recently gone to work for the IRS.”  When I said it didn’t make me mad, that I was an Enrolled Agent and worked with the IRS all the time that opened the door for a good discussion about the IRS. 

He told me that he had been in training as a Revenue Officer in the Large & Medium Size Business unit since he joined.  However, he had already done two solo audits.  This was August, only four months after he joined the IRS. 

The IRS has seen a tremendous loss of experienced people over the last several years.  Part of that occurred in the late 1990’s when the IRS was significantly downsized and became a “friendlier” organization.  However, since early 2000 the IRS has been steadily increasing its’ hiring and is becoming the IRS of old. 

The experience level of many of the people in the IRS who conduct audits is very low.  Many of the agents have minimal training before they are told to “go get em tiger.”  This is disconcerting if you are on the receiving end of an IRS audit.

Those conducting Correspondence Audits are the least trained, often getting the bare minimum training and only in the areas they need to know to conduct the audit.  As I indicate above, this also seems to be the case for Revenue Officers conducting Office and Field Audits as well.

So what does that mean for those of us who get audited?

  1. Don’t arbitrarily accept what the auditor is telling you.  Calmly and professionally fight the battle with the auditor. 
  2. If you think or suspect the IRS is wrong, hire an EA or CPA to represent you; or better yet, bring one onboard before the audit begins.  At any time in an audit, you have the right to tell the auditor that you are going to get a representative.  At that point the audit will cease and resume when the representative is onboard.
  3. Be prepared to challenge them with the facts and/or the IRS code.
  4. Don’t hesitate to elevate the issue to the auditor’s supervisor.  Often you will get a much more seasoned and experienced person who will listen to both sides and make a decision or even negotiate with you.
  5. If you believe you are right and you can’t get satisfaction from the auditor or his/her supervisor, consider taking the matter to appeals.  Going to appeals must be carefully considered and certainly cannot be done frivolously.  Often you will get a very seasoned and experienced person who is interested in resolving the case.  He/she will do an assessment as to how the IRS would do if the case goes to tax court.  In many cases, it is in the IRS’s best interest to resolve the matter in appeals.  While the Revenue Officer has little or no authority to negotiate, an appeals officer has total authority.

The IRS can be very persuasive and forceful.  I highly recommend you immediately contact an Enrolled Agent or a CPA to review the IRS correspondence and hire him/her to represent you in the case.  This will give you peace of mind of knowing you have someone in your court who will not be bullied by the IRS Revenue Officer and who knows the IRS code and can advocate in your behalf.


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As an Enrolled Agent and consummate tax professional, Bill provides year-round, affordable tax services for his clients. Bill is experienced in small business start-up and tax planning in addition to a full range of tax return preparation.

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