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The IRS Interview – What to Do

Under Section 7521(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, while conducting an audit, the Internal Revenue Service is required to speak only with the taxpayer’s qualified representative, not the taxpayer, if that is the taxpayer’s preference.  This includes any interviews conducted during the audit. Qualified representatives include certified public accountants, enrolled agents and attorneys, who are so designated on a properly executed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. 

However, there may be instances where it becomes necessary for the taxpayer to participate in the interview process. On those rare occasions when this happens, you must keep the following in mind: 

  • Above all, when answering a question, answer it honestly. Never lie to a federal agent.
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
  • Do not volunteer an answer that exceeds what has been asked – brevity is best.
  • If you need a break, ask for one.
  • If you are unclear about a question, request a clarification. 

Keep in mind that the revenue agent you are speaking to is trained in interview techniques. Agents are taught to build rapport with taxpayers by maintaining a friendly and professional demeanor. A favorite technique is to leave long pauses in between questions so as to create a temptation of the taxpayer to fill that void with further chatter. Don’t fall into that trap! 

 

Daniel Gibson provides accounting, tax planning and consulting services to real estate and services industries and is a member of the AICPA and New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.

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