How Often Does A Small Business Get Audited?

  • John A. Osborne
  • Feb 07, 2023
Small Business Insurance New Jersey

Small businesses are the backbone of most economies, creating jobs and generating revenue. However, they are also susceptible to various challenges and risks, including legal and financial compliance. One of the most common compliance-related issues for small businesses is getting audited by government agencies. But how often does a small business get audited, and what can they do to prepare for it?

In this article, we will explore several topics related to small business audits, including the audit frequency, the types of audits, the triggers for audits, and the best practices for preparing for an audit.

The Audit Frequency

The frequency of small business audits varies depending on several factors, such as the business size, industry, and compliance history. Generally, small businesses can expect to get audited at least once a year by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or other government agencies.

However, some businesses may get audited more frequently, especially if they operate in a high-risk industry or have a history of non-compliance. For instance, small businesses that deal with cash or have complex financial transactions may attract more attention from auditors.

Additionally, some audits may be triggered by specific events or circumstances, such as changes in tax laws or regulations, complaints from employees or customers, or suspicious financial activities.

The Types of Audits

Small business audits can take various forms, depending on the type of compliance issue or government agency involved. The most common types of audits are:

  • Financial audits: These audits focus on the accuracy and completeness of a business’s financial records, such as tax returns, balance sheets, income statements, and bank statements.
  • Tax audits: These audits are conducted by the IRS to verify the accuracy of a business’s tax returns and ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations.
  • Safety audits: These audits are conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assess a business’s compliance with safety regulations and prevent workplace accidents.
  • Environmental audits: These audits are conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate a business’s compliance with environmental regulations and prevent pollution.

The Triggers for Audits

Small business audits can be triggered by various factors, such as:

  • Anomalies or discrepancies in financial records, such as unreported income or inflated expenses
  • Complaints from employees or customers, such as discrimination, safety violations, or fraud
  • Random selection by government agencies, such as the IRS or OSHA
  • Changes in tax laws or regulations that affect the business’s compliance obligations
  • Prior audit findings of non-compliance or violations

The Best Practices for Preparing for an Audit

Small businesses can take several steps to prepare for an audit and minimize the risks of non-compliance, such as:

  • Maintaining accurate and up-to-date financial records, such as income and expense reports, bank statements, invoices, and receipts
  • Keeping track of compliance deadlines, such as tax filing dates, safety inspections, or environmental permits
  • Implementing internal controls and policies that promote transparency, accountability, and compliance
  • Training employees on compliance issues and reporting requirements
  • Consulting with legal and financial experts to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations


Small business audits are a common compliance issue that can have significant implications for a business’s reputation, finances, and legal standing. By understanding the audit frequency, types, triggers, and best practices, small business owners can prepare for audits and minimize the risks of non-compliance. Ultimately, compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a business necessity that can foster trust, credibility, and growth.

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