Publication 556

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Examination of Returns, Appeal Rights, and Claims for Refund

Overview

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accepts most federal tax returns as filed. However, the IRS examines (or audits) some returns to determine if income, expenses, and credits are being reported accurately.

If your return is selected for examination, it does not suggest that you made an error or are dishonest. Returns are chosen by computerized screening, by random sample, or by an income document matching program. See Examination selection criteria, later. You should also know that many examinations result in a refund or acceptance of the tax return without change.

This publication discusses general rules and procedures that the IRS follows in examinations. It explains what happens during an examination and your appeal rights, both within the IRS and in the federal court system. It also explains how to file a claim for refund of tax you already paid.

As a taxpayer, you have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees. Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, explains your rights when dealing with the IRS.

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