The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is always adapting new ways to ensure that businesses are fully tax compliant. As a certified professional bookkeeper dedicated to assisting small businesses, startups, and nonprofits, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about potential triggers that could lead to an IRS audit. Understanding these red flags can help you proactively manage your financial records and minimize the risk of an audit. Let’s delve into the key factors that could catch the IRS’s attention.

1. Discrepancies in Income Reporting


Ensure that reported income aligns with the 1099s and other tax documents received. Any inconsistencies may raise eyebrows at the IRS.

2. Excessive Deductions


While deductions are a legitimate way to reduce taxable income, excessive or disproportionate deductions might attract scrutiny. Maintain detailed records to support all claimed deductions.

3. Home Office Deductions


With the rise of remote work, home office deductions have become more common. However, claiming a home office deduction without meeting the specific criteria may trigger an audit. Understand the IRS guidelines thoroughly.


4. High Income Fluctuations


Drastic changes in income from one year to the next could raise suspicions. Clearly document any significant fluctuations and be prepared to explain the reasons behind them.

5. Cash Transactions


Excessive use of cash transactions might attract attention. Keep detailed records, especially for cash transactions over $10,000, as they must be reported to the IRS.

6. Failure to Report Foreign Accounts


Small businesses engaged in international transactions must comply with reporting requirements for foreign bank accounts and financial assets. Failure to do so could lead to an audit.

7. Mismatched Payroll Taxes

Ensure that payroll tax filings match the information reported on W-2s and other payroll-related documents. Consistency is key to avoiding IRS scrutiny.

8. Inadequate Record-Keeping


Maintain meticulous records of all financial transactions, receipts, and supporting documentation. Poor record-keeping may signal negligence and increase audit risk.

9. Unusual Charitable Contributions


While charitable donations are commendable, unusually high deductions for charitable contributions might trigger an audit. Make sure to document all donations and adhere to IRS guidelines.

10. Independent Contractor Misclassification


Correctly classify workers as employees or independent contractors to avoid potential audit triggers. Misclassification can lead to tax-related issues and scrutiny from the IRS.

As a small businesses, startup or nonprofit, you can navigate the complexities of the tax landscape with confidence once you remain vigilant and address these potential triggers. Remember, proactive and accurate record-keeping is your best defense against an IRS audit. If you’re struggling with keeping up with your bookkeeping, it’s time to consider outsourcing. Feel free to connect with us and let’s see how we can work together to keep you up to date while maximizing your profitability. Book a free consultation to get started (no hidden fees or obligations).