How Long Does The IRS Have To Audit

by Bruce Givner on October 4, 2011

The period of time the IRS has to perform an IRS audit is called the “statute of limitations.” It means that if the IRS audit or examination department does not audit the return during that period, the IRS has lost its opportunity to question what was reported on the return and lost their power to perform an IRS audit.

The normal period of time for an income tax return is 3 years from the date of filing. This appears in Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(a)(1), which you can easily find by Googling IRC Section 6501. Assume you file your personal return – your Form 1040 – for the calendar year 2009 – on time on April 15, 2010. The IRS has until April 15, 2013 to perform an IRS audit on your return. Of course, if you did not file your 2009 return until the extended due date – October 15, 2010, the IRS has until October 15, 2013 to audit your return.

As a rule of thumb, if you do not receive an IRS audit notice within the first 18 months after you file your return, then an IRS audit is unlikely. The Internal Revenue Service rarely sends out an IRS audit notice in the last one year that the statute of limitations is open.

In certain situations the IRS has more than 3 years. For example, the IRS has 6 years when the taxpayer omits more than 25% from gross income. There is no limit if the taxpayer did not file a return; filed a false or fraudulent return; or filed a return with a willful attempt to defeat or evade the tax.

In a future blog we will address why taxpayers should never agree to extend the statute of limitations.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy October 5, 2011 at 12:08 am

Thanks for the share!
Nancy.R

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Vinny October 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I’d venture that this atrlcie has saved me more time than any other.

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Essie October 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Well I guess I don’t have to spend the weeeknd figuring this one out!

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admin October 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Did you have any questions?

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Wiley Whiting November 2, 2011 at 12:26 am

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admin November 2, 2011 at 9:38 am

Thank you, that is very kind.

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