Avoid these top 5 red flags that may trigger an audit - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Avoid these top 5 red flags that may trigger an audit on your taxes

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

If you haven't filed your taxes yet, several tax experts say to watch out for these top five red flags that have the most potential to trigger an audit from the IRS.

There is no set check list when it comes to who gets audited by the IRS, but here are claims that stick out:

1. Disproportionate donations compared to your income

"The IRS does keep statistics comparative information as to different levels of income in ranges that they expect to see," said Jamie Walker, tax partner for Cherry Bekaert.

According to IRS data, the average deduction for a $50,000 to $100,000 income is $2,881.

2. Leaving off income - like tips from service jobs and winnings from gambling

3. Overstating the value of your home office

"That's a big red flag at the IRS," said James Shepherd, Chairman for Verus Financial Partners.

The IRS now offers a safe harbor deduction of $5 per square foot with a maximum of $1500.

4. Having a less-than-reputable tax preparer

Choosing an unaccredited tax preparer can boost your chance of an audit.

"There's something called the Preparer Tax Identification Number... if somebody prepares your return for you, they should be signing that return with the PTIN number," said IRS spokesperson Mark Hanson.

The PTIN shows the preparer is IRS-certified.

5. Filing a 1040X or an amended return

This won't trigger an audit, but it will be looked at more closely.

"It's not necessarily higher scrutiny, it's just that somebody's hands are on that return, where electronically they may not be," said Shepherd.

Walker says filing a Schedule C means you're 12 times more likely to be audited.

"About 70% of the people that are taking losses, claiming losses on those Schedule Cs are noncompliant," said Walker.

If any of these categories worry you...don't let them. Experts say you'll get what you're entitled to, just as long as you have all of proper documentation to support it.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

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