Ever wish that, as a business owner, you knew exactly what would raise “red flags” at the IRS? Or how to make an IRS audit go as smoothly and painlessly as possible?
If you’re in the right type of business, you can get that information, directly from the IRS!
Traditionally, IRS examiners have been responsible for auditing many types of businesses. An examiner might audit a grocery store one week and a construction company the next. A lot of the examiner’s time was spent learning about the business.
To improve efficiency, the IRS launched the Market Segment Specialization Program (MSSP). Examiners now focus on specific types of businesses. To help the examiners understand each type of business business, the agency has developed training guides, called “Audit Techniques Guides.” The guides explain the standard practices for the business, and tell the examiners exactly where to look for potential problems. (For example, auto repair shops sometimes don’t report the parts they have in stock as inventory.)
The IRS has developed Audit Techniques Guides for dozens of business types, ranging from pizza shops to major league sports franchises. In addition, there are guides that deal with specific business practices, such as executive compensation, shareholder loans, or stock based compensation.
You can download the guides directly from the IRS website. There are other sites that distribute the ATGs as well, and some of them seem to have guides, perhaps a little out of date, that don’t appear on the IRS websites. (The best site I’ve found is at www.unclefed.com) You can find other ATG lists as well – just search the web for IRS Audit Techniques Guides.