Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to the question, “How long does an IRS audit take?” There are many factors that determine how long a specific tax audit takes. No two IRS audits are the same, which means predicting how long the process will take depends on the situation. However, the IRS does try to address audits in a timely manner.
Knowing how long the process will take can ease the toll of a tax audit. It can also be beneficial to turn to an experienced professional who understands the IRS audit process timeline. A licensed CPA with tax audit experience can help you meet any deadlines while answering the IRS’s questions as thoroughly as possible. This may help to keep your audit moving forward as quickly as possible.
The IRS Audit Process Timeline
After your tax returns are filed, the IRS reviews them as soon as possible. This means that audits are usually on returns from the last two years. The statute of limitations on tax audits is generally three years. If the IRS finds substantial omissions of income in your returns, the statute of limitations increases, usually up to six years. The statute of limitations begins when your tax return was filed or due, whichever is later. In cases where the IRS suspects fraud, there is no statute of limitations.
Once the IRS has identified you as the subject of a tax audit, they notify you. How quickly this happens depends on the type of audit you’re undergoing. For mail audits, you can expect to receive notification within six to eighteen months. For office audits and field audits you’re usually notified within a year to eighteen months of filing your returns.
How Long Does a Tax Audit Take?
The length of the audit itself depends on the “type of audit; the complexity of the issues; the availability of information requested; the availability of both parties for scheduling meetings; and your agreement or disagreement with the findings.” Mail audits and office audits generally have faster timelines, lasting three to six months. Field audits can last about a year.
Of course, every audit is different and these timelines are just estimates. If you need more time to prepare your response to the IRS, you can request additional time. The IRS can also extend the process by increasing the statute of limitations, usually by a year.
- An audit concludes when the IRS decides which of three outcomes fits your case:
- No Change: The IRS concludes that your original tax return(s) is correct and no further action is necessary.
- Agreement: The IRS identifies changes to your tax return(s) and you agree with them. If you do not make arrangements to pay the balance due, the collection process begins.
- Disagreement: The IRS identifies changes to your tax return(s) and you do not agree with them. The IRS audit process timeline is extended—if you’re still within the statute of limitations—while you request a conference with an IRS manager, enter mediation, or file an appeal.
For tax audit help specific to your unique situation, contact East Coast Tax Consulting Group.