During income-tax filing time, every taxpayer's worst nightmare is getting audited. If your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or more, you...

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NEW YORK — During income-tax filing time, every taxpayer’s worst nightmare is getting audited.

If your adjusted gross income is $100,000 or more, you have a 1-in-20 chance of being audited, reports Eric Tyson in “Taxes 2005 for Dummies.”

If your income is $50,000 or less, your chances drop to less than 1 in 100. But you might even be one of the unlucky random audits.

Either way, getting audited can be a nerve-wracking experience if you aren’t prepared. Here’s how to get ready:

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Before you file: Check your return for accuracy.

Do the math at least twice to make sure it is correct.

Check that you have declared all your income. Be especially careful if you’re self-employed or do freelance work. You’ll receive a 1099 form from anyone who paid you $600 or more last year.


If you’re audited: Do your homework.

That’s the recommendation of Jim Camp, author of “Start with No.” Research your rights and obligations as a taxpayer. Gather all relevant financial documents, including those from your past returns.


Speak to a tax professional.

Have a strategy session with your tax preparer, and if possible, have him or her come with you to your meeting with the IRS.


Talk in person.

Many people are tempted to try to resolve the problem over the phone. Instead, Camp advises making an appointment to meet with an IRS agent, face to face. Knowing who you’re dealing with puts you at an advantage.


Bring your evidence.

Show materials that support your deductions, such as receipts and bills.


Stay collected.

Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Being defensive or angry with the auditor won’t help, and will definitely hurt. Instead, concentrate on the present. Make the agent do most of the talking, while you take comprehensive notes.