According to a recent piece in the Boston Globe, the most important thing that you can do as we head into tax season is to make sure that your return is accurate. According to tax attorney Ian Comisky, “Because of a huge deficit and major enforcement initiatives by the IRS, an inaccurate return will have a better chance of being picked up than in prior years.”
That being said, you shouldn’t live in fear of an audit. While there are things that you can do to decrease your chances of being audited, you shouldn’t cheat yourself out of legitimate tax breaks “just to be on the safe side.” If you qualify for a particular income tax deduction then, by all means, you should take it. Just don’t claim things that you can’t substantiate, and don’t try to hide your income.
The bottom line here is that, if you’re both honest and careful, you have nothing to fear from an audit. Yes, it will cost you some time, and it will likely be stressful, but you should emerge (more or less) unscathed.
(Knock, knock, knock… That’s me knocking on wood.)