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I don't disagree with your comments (rant) but one of the scary things about IRS audits is that you are presumed guilty until YOU prove your innocence.

This is a popular rant of politicians (saw it in today's WSJ), but it's a misstatement. You are not presumed to be guilty of anything, you are just asked to substantiate certain items on your return. Of course, if the auditor finds that your return should be competing for the fiction Pulitzer, his attitude might change.

Yes, the burden to prove the return is on the taxpayer, but who else would be in the position of being able to prove, for example, itemized deductions? Or would you prefer to have the IRS summonsing information from your medical providers, church, local taxing authorities, etc?

Basically, if you prepare a return from records rather than make one up, you have what you need to prove the return and have nothing to fear from an audit. The real problem, which unfortunately the IRS can't fix, is that it's far too common for it to be an issue exactly how something should be treated. That's a complexity problem only Congress can fix, and I'm not hopeful. This is why whenever someone has a complex transaction, for example sale of rental property, I always advise a paid preparer for that year.

Phil Marti
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