PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – At least 1.5 million tax returns are likely to be audited, and all kinds of red flags trigger an audit. But here’s a new one — something you post on a public site like Facebook or Twitter.

“Don’t post on social media things you don’t want others to access like the IRS,” says Kevin McQuillan, a certified public accountant.

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It’s good advice, especially if the IRS finds questionable tax deductions on your returns that appear at odds with what you’re posting online — like claiming a trip to some resort as a business expense.

“Taking a business trip, and then blasting all over Facebook how much fun your business trip was and leaving it out there — if that information is obtainable, it certainly could be used as evidence that at least portion of your business trip was not a business expense. No question,” adds McQuillan.

Some taxpayers have no problem with that.

“If you’re posting your information up on the Internet anyways, then clearly the IRS, as does everybody else, has access to it,” notes Adam Stewart of Upper St. Clair.

But others think the IRS should stick to the taxpayer’s return.

“I think the IRS responsibility is to make sure that people pay their taxes. I don’t think they should go into their personal social sites though,” says Donna Pelletier of York, Maine.

And, of course, not everything posted online is true.

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“Cause with Facebook, I can post anything — fake stuff,” says Brittany Lhota of Latrobe.

And others think the IRS will misinterpret what they find.

“I go to a conference in Hawaii, and I go to the conference all day. I work hard, then I go to the beach, and I relax and post a picture to my friends,” suggests Joyce Cappiello of Barrington, N.H. “So, how would they know I hadn’t put in a full day’s work?”

In a statement, the IRS says: “Suggestions that the IRS is using social media to target taxpayers for audit are wrong.”

But then adds, “We monitor publicly available information to assist with already existing compliance work.”

“They should look at our tax returns. That’s good enough,” insists Cappiello.

But maybe not for the IRS.


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