Will the IRS be able to use social media to conduct audits?

You might have a new friend request on social media: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to a recent article, the IRS is currently looking for a way to catch tax cheaters through social media platforms.

In December, the IRS submitted a Social Media Research Request for a "vendor-supplied tool" that will help IRS auditors better identify people who are submitting improper tax returns. While people can publicly display their businesses, services and products on social media, the IRS does not have a way to recover this information for the purposes of an audit.

A specific tool is also necessary because of the agency's policy on employees' use of social media. The IRS prohibits employees from using personal or fake social media accounts to conduct research. Additionally, it does not provide employees with government mandated social media accounts.

According to the request, the IRS does not plan to use a social media auditing tool to search for new tax audit cases. Instead, it hopes a tool would help resolve ongoing audits in a timelier manner by providing more resources to determine "taxpayers' location and income sources." The agency also believes a tool could help catch people responsible for tax-related identity theft.

While the IRS will not receive a response to the social media request for a few weeks, it will continue to conduct audit investigations as normal. If you receive an IRS audit notice, consult an experienced tax attorney to discuss your next steps. You can face severe penalties if the IRS finds you failed to complete your tax return properly.

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