Understanding The IRS

Use audit guides to gain the upper hand.

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If you want to stay ahead of the , you should get to know the agency's Market Segment Specialization Program (MSSP). It provides industry-specific manuals, known as "audit techniques guides," to IRS auditors so they can do a better job uncovering tax violations.

Rolled out nationally in 1993, MSSP has since published 53 guides, covering such industries as architecture, used-car dealerships and manufacturing. Research is currently underway on another 50 market segments, but not all will result in additional manuals, the IRS official says.

Although the guides were designed for IRS auditors, entrepreneurs can use them to their advantage. They're readily available to the public, and those who review the guides are certain to do a better job complying with the tax laws, says Mark H. Ely, national partner in charge of tax-controversy technical services for .

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