Top 10 IRS Audit Triggers & How To Prevent One

Last updated on October 24, 2023 

No one wants to face an IRS audit, so understanding and avoiding potential audit triggers is essential. With IRS-proof mileage logging becoming a significant point of concern, especially for small business owners and freelancers, it’s more important than ever to ensure your records stand up to scrutiny. This is vital not only for peace of mind but also to secure tax deductions from mileage tracking safely.

Let’s discover key IRS audit triggers and learn how maintaining accurate mileage logs not only safeguards your tax deductions but also solidifies your position during IRS scrutiny.

mileagewise can help you stay compliant with irs-proof mileage logs

Key IRS Audit Triggers and The Role of Mileage Tracking:

  1. High Earnings: The IRS pays particular attention to returns of those who report high earnings, specifically those earning over $1,000,000.
    Mileage logs play a vital role in these scenarios. If your earnings can be tied to business travel, such as meeting clients or attending conferences, maintaining consistent and clear mileage logs provides concrete evidence to support your earnings claims. Using a mileage tracker app can help prove that your business travel contributes to your income.
  2. Cash-based Businesses: Businesses where cash transactions are the norm, such as in the construction, landscaping, or tutoring sectors, are often on the IRS’s radar. In such industries, accurate reporting of cash transactions, combined with faultless mileage logs, can alleviate suspicions and offer a clear picture of your earnings and business activities.
  3. Mathematical Mistakes: The importance of submitting an error-free return cannot be overstated. Mistakes raise red flags. Proper mileage tracking is a component of this, ensuring that the deductions claimed for business trips are accurate and verifiable. Use an advanced mileage tracker software for accurate mileage tracking to ensure your business trip deductions are correct.
  4. Schedule C Filings: Sole proprietorships, which file under Schedule C, often undergo more rigorous scrutiny by the IRS. Maintaining detailed mileage logs not only enhances the credibility of your Schedule C filings but also provides concrete proof of business activities.
  5. Home Office Deductions: Those who work from home might need to drive for business reasons, be it meeting clients or purchasing supplies. Mileage logs play an essential role in confirming the authenticity of these drives, and supporting claims related to home office deductions.
  6. Consistent Losses: Reporting regular business losses can draw IRS attention. If these losses are combined with extensive mileage, it raises questions. Hence, it’s imperative to ensure that your mileage logs genuinely reflect business-related drives, further cementing your claims.
  7. Incomplete or Missing Returns: It’s paramount to submit complete tax returns. Along with other documents, mileage logs and documentation are vital, especially if you claim deductions for travel. Fortunately, some advanced mileage tracker software can help recover and log missed trips, ensuring a comprehensive record. MileageWise offers you retrospective logging options, and its AI Wizard uses your past driving patterns and the list of clients visited to suggest realistic trips that can fill trip gaps.
  8. Significant Income/Expense Fluctuations: Large swings in your reported income or expenses, such as a surge in business trips, can raise eyebrows. To alleviate concerns, it’s crucial to have accurate mileage tracking, which can provide a rational explanation for such fluctuations.
  9. Blending Business and Personal Expenses: It can be challenging to differentiate between business and personal trips, especially if you use the same vehicle for both purposes. Comprehensive mileage logs help clarify this distinction, ensuring every business-related expense, from gas to car maintenance, is accounted for and justifiable. Using an advanced mileage tracker app can help delineate business from personal trips, ensuring every business expense, from fuel to maintenance, is justifiable.
  10. Vehicle Usage for Business: IRS-Proof mileage tracking is critical here. Keep thorough records of every drive, highlighting the business purpose. Properly logged mileage defends against audit risks while maximizing your eligible deductions. Again, advanced mileage tracker apps make separating your business and personal trips a breeze. 

Navigating an IRS Audit with Mileage Logs in Hand:

Facing an audit? Remain composed. Respond to the IRS promptly, and professionally, and ensure your mileage logs are at the ready. Many find it helpful to consult with a tax expert, especially when substantial amounts are at play. Most audits can be resolved by supplying the requested documentation, such as your IRS-Proof mileage log. MileageWise offers users a built-in IRS-auditor that turns their records into an IRS-Proof log.

If you need help in recovering trip gaps retrospectively and assembling your monthly mileage logs, you can always avail of MileageWise’s Mileage Log Tax Preparation Service.

Important note: Retain all your records, including mileage logs, for a minimum of three years. And remember, state revenue departments can initiate audits too. Meticulous mileage logging stands as one of your most potent tools against unwanted scrutiny, safeguarding your deductions.

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