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Top tax mistakes that can get you audited

Posted at 5:30 PM, Feb 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-17 12:27:11-05

The last thing you want to hear after you've filed your taxes is the word "audit."

But as millions of Americans file their taxes this month, they will make mistakes that could increase their chances of being put under the Internal Revenue Service’s microscope.

Despite the fact that the IRS has been hit hard by $300 million in budget cuts for 2015, tax experts told CNN you still have roughly a one in 100 chance of being audited this year.

But certain people have an even greater chance.

Tax mistakes that can trigger an audit

Unusually high charitable contributions for your income: Be careful not to overstate your good deeds.

According to CNN Money, the IRS has calculated the average donation level for each income range, so anything that exceeds those amounts could cause agents to take another look at your return.

Deducting for a home office: The IRS's definition of a home office is complicated, and a lot of people get confused or try to stretch the rules.

Just because you work from home a couple days a week doesn't mean you can claim the home office deduction. Your home office must be your primary place of business and used exclusively for work.

Forgetting to report something on a 1099 form: For many people, reporting income isn’t that complicated. But some people earn money from a variety of different sources.

If you earned more than $600 in a side job, those employers should send you a Form 1099 so you can report that income on your taxes.

Deducting gas costs: Most employers reimburse you for driving-related costs like gas, but if you try to deduct thousands of dollars' worth of car costs as a business expense, that's going to raise eyebrows at the IRS.

To avoid trouble, you should only deduct business-related costs. The gas you buy for your personal driving cannot be mixed up in that, or the IRS will ask for documentation of everything.

Deducting gym expenses: Unless it was ordered by a doctor as part of a rehab program, your weekly workout (or 2 or 3) is not tax deductible.

Easy to make mistakes

Finally, the easiest mistakes that will get you flagged: Writing down the wrong Social Security number or doing bad math.

The best advice: Make sure you have the documents to back up all your deductions, and take your time.

That way, you don’t waste your money.


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