Getting audited by the IRS can be a daunting experience. The thought of the government combing through your financial records for discrepancies is enough to make anyone queasy. But how far back can the IRS actually go when conducting an audit? The answer may surprise you.
Generally, the IRS has three years from the date you filed your return to conduct an audit. However, there are some circumstances in which the IRS may go back even further. For example, if you failed to report income that amounted to more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return, the government has six years to come after you for the unpaid taxes. Additionally, if you did not pay any taxes at all, the IRS has an indefinite amount of time to come after you for the money you owe. And finally, if you file a fraudulent return, the government can audit you at any time.
Of course, just because the IRS has a certain amount of time to audit you doesn't mean that it will. In fact, most audits are conducted within two years of filing. So while it's certainly possible that you could be audited several years after filing your return, it's not all that likely.
While no one likes being audited by the IRS, it's important to know that there are limits as to how far back the government can go when looking for discrepancies in your tax returns. In most cases, the IRS only has three years from the date you filed your return to conduct an audit; however, there are some circumstances in which that timeframe may be extended. If you have any questions about whether or not you could be subject to an audit, be sure to speak with a tax professional. You may qualify for the IRS forgiveness program if you owe back taxes.