There are three types of audits: correspondence audit, office audit, and field audit. A correspondence audit is conducted entirely by mail and typically involves one or two simpler items on a return (e.g., Schedule A medical deductions or the earned income tax credit). An office audit is conducted at a taxing authority’s office with an agent (for example, at an IRS office or state department of revenue office). A field audit involves an agent going to the taxpayer’s place of business or home to conduct the audit. Each type of audit carries different risks, involves different resources, requires careful planning and analysis, and involves different strategies to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome. And, sometimes further representation work is needed, such as filing an appeal or litigating the case.
This page focuses on guidance, practice aids, tools, and educational resources to help you plan, manage, and execute representation engagements. Additional guidance and resources to assist members in navigating the IRS (such as guidance on e-Services or best practices to contact the IRS) can be found on our IRS Procedure and Tax Administration page.
Browse our complete library of representation and examinations resources using the predefined search filters on the left. Clicking on these filters will result in a list of resources based on your choice. “By Topics” will result in a list of different types of resources and documents related to that topic. “By Document Type” will result in a list of resources of a particular type (e.g., checklist, sample letter, or engagement letter) regardless of topic. You can apply multiple filters to narrow your search. For example, if you select a topic (e.g., IRS resources), and then select a document type (e.g., sample template), the results list will include a link to our Information Document Request Template.
We are continually developing new resources and updating existing resources for our members. Below are some newly released AICPA resources and some valuable links to various IRS resources.
- IRS Authorizations Quick Reference Chart: View a chart that goes over the types of IRS authorizations and the benefits of each.
- IRS Representation Log: Use this template to document all correspondence between you and the IRS.
- Information Document Request Table of Contents Template: Use this template to serve as a table of contents for all items that the IRS requests during an audit, as outlined on the IRS’ Information Document Request (IDR). It’s important to carefully organize all substantiation so the IRS agent can quickly find what he or she is looking for, and in turn, speed up resolution of the audit.
- Chart of State with and without State Tax Tribunals: View an all-inclusive chart showing a list of states that have a tax adjudication forum that is independent (to some extent) from the department of revenue. This resource also contains guidance regarding mobility for accountants, including out-of-state CPAs who are allowed to represent clients without needing to obtain permission.
- Internal Revenue Manual: Read about the procedures that IRS employees must follow to administer fair tax administration (this is essentially the IRS’ employee handbook).
- Tax Code, Regulations, and Official Guidance: Research tax law by navigating to the applicable Code, Treasury Regulations, or Internal Revenue Bulletins that you need to address your client’s issue.
- Taxpayer Advocate Service: Get help from a local Taxpayer Advocate Service employee.
- Forms 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative (instructions): Use this IRS form to represent your client during an audit, appeal, or other IRS matter.
- IRS Audits: Get guidance on the IRS’ audit process for a small business/self-employed taxpayer, including videos, relevant publications, and more.
- Audit Technique Guides (ATGs): View the applicable guide for your client’s industry. These ATGs help IRS examiners during audits by providing insight into issues and accounting methods unique to specific industries.
- IRS Appeals: Resolving Tax Disputes: This page contains information and valuable links to help you file an appeal with the IRS Office of Appeals to resolve various tax issues.
- U.S. Tax Court Petition Kit: This kit contains the instructions and forms to use when filling a case in the U.S. Tax Court.
- IRS Dispute: Identifying Options, Nov. 24: Gain the powerful knowledge and understanding you need to stand up to the IRS. Learn what may trigger an audit, how to negotiate with the IRS, settle an appeal, and qualify for an IRS collection program. Represent your client with confidence, and evaluate your client’s best options for dealing effectively with the IRS.