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8 simple steps to avoid an IRS tax audit

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Steering clear of the audit trail

For many a taxpayer, an IRS audit conjures up images of the accused being grilled under hot lights by an angry government official. In reality, it's usually not that bad, but it's still something to be avoided at all costs if possible.

Fortunately, the IRS audit process—highly exaggerated to begin with—clearly became more benign following a 1998 reform that emphasized taxpayer rights. Audits declined after 1998, then climbed a bit before the financial crisis.

In any event, no one wants to be challenged to justify an obscure line in the 1040 that can be so confusing even the most honest taxpayer can get something wrong. And taxpayers often face unfamiliar issues that raise their audit risk. For example, for the first time this year, millions will have to take into account subsidies they received under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

So with the April 15 filing deadline bearing down on us, here are eight keys to avoiding an audit.

By Jeff Brown, special to CNBC.com
Posted 07 April 2015

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