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Personal Finance Tax Relief

Tax Audit Representation: Find IRS Assistance

When the IRS opts to do a deeper dive into someone’s tax returns, it’s called an audit. It might do this if the taxpayer is claiming too many deductions or charitable contributions or it suspects income isn’t being reported.

Either way, a tax audit is a serious undertaking, and if you’re subject to one, you’ll want help in your corner. Here’s what you need to know about tax audit representation and where to find it.

What is tax audit representation?

Tax audit representation is essentially a form of defense for taxpayers facing an audit. It’s usually offered by tax professionals, tax attorneys, or tax relief companies.

Once hired, the professional becomes the taxpayer’s authorized audit representative. They can help communicate with the IRS, accompany the taxpayer to meetings, or stand in for the taxpayer.

What does an IRS tax representative do?

An IRS tax representative is there to help with all aspects of the audit. First, they’ll assess the situation and review your tax returns. Then, they’ll develop a strategy for defending you.

They also may:

  • Attend any in-person audit meetings with the IRS
  • Accompany you to IRS interviews
  • Prepare documents requested during the audit
  • Handle communications with the IRS agent
  • Appeal the results of your audit if you disagree with their findings

The primary benefit of tax audit representation is guidance from an experienced professional. For most people, audits are stressful and intimidating. A tax representative can help you better understand the auditing process, ensure you’re prepared, and help you minimize any damage that might come from it.

3 companies that offer IRS audit representation

Many accountants, tax firms, and tax law groups offer IRS audit representation. Specific tax relief companies specialize in these services. Many companies offer a free consultation to help determine whether you need representation.

Here are three companies to consider.

Anthem Tax Services

  • Free consultation? Yes
  • Initial cost: $250
  • Minimum tax debt: $10,000

Anthem offers various tax services, including tax preparation, bookkeeping, and audit representation. The company employs IRS-enrolled agents and has an A- with the Better Business Bureau. Past customer reviews are positive, with 4-plus stars on BBB and 4.3 stars on Trustpilot.

Community Tax

  • Free consultation? Yes
  • Initial cost: $295
  • Minimum tax debt: Not disclosed

Tax audit representation is just one of Community Tax‘s many tax-related services. With over a decade of experience, the company employs various tax professionals, IRS-enrolled agents, and attorneys. Community Tax has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and 4.6 stars on Trustpilot at the time of writing.

Optima Tax Relief

  • Free consultation? Yes
  • Initial cost: $295
  • Minimum tax debt: $10,000

Founded in 2011, Optima specializes in tax problems, including audits, back taxes, unfiled returns, and more. In 2015, the company was No. 3 on the Inc. 5000 list, and it currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Customers have given Optima 4.6 stars on Trustpilot.

How to decide if you need help with an IRS audit

The three types of audits are mail, office, and field audits. Mail audits are the simplest type. The IRS will mail you a letter and request additional documentation to verify your returns. Unless the document requests are complicated, you probably won’t need representation for this type of audit.

Office and field audits, though, are in-person. With an office audit, you’ll go to a local IRS field office; field audits are conducted at your home or business. In both cases, an IRS agent will question you, and you might want a representative to help you through it.

When you should consider representationWhen you can forgo representation
✅ You’re facing an office audit

✅ You’re facing a field audit

✅ You don’t have certain requested documents

✅ You’re meeting with an IRS agent in person
❌ It’s a simple mailed audit

❌ You have all the documents requested

Hiring tax audit representation is up to you. Consider it if you’d feel more comfortable with professional help—even with a mailed audit.

How much does IRS tax audit representation cost?

IRS tax audit representation costs vary and can come with an hourly rate or flat fee.

After conducting your audit, the IRS may find that you owe additional taxes and interest. If you fail to pay the full amount within two weeks, you’ll also owe penalties.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to pay:

  • Hourly rate: usually around $150 per hour or more
  • Flat fee: $1,700 — $5,000, depending on type of audit
  • Unpaid taxes and interest: determined by your auditor
  • Penalties: 0.5% of outstanding balance, assessed each month

If there’s a possibility the IRS could determine you owe thousands more in taxes, the cost of representation may be worth it.