The thought of spending the next year undergoing and worrying about an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax audit may naturally leave you feeling unsettled. However, not all types of tax audits last this long, based on audit defense reviews. Here’s a rundown on the various types of audits that the IRS may complete and how long each of these lasts.

First, the IRS may decide to complete a mail audit when investigating a recent tax return of yours. With this type of audit, the IRS will notify you within the seven-month period after you have filed your return that you will undergo an audit. Then, the IRS will complete this audit by mail. You can generally expect this kind of audit to be completed in 3-6 months depending on how rapidly you respond to the IRS’s audit letter and the kinds of issues the IRS is investigating.

Second, the IRS may want to complete an office audit with you. In other words, an IRS agent will have a meeting with you at an office of the IRS. You can expect this type of audit to begin within one year after you have filed the return to be audited. Like a mail audit, it may take 3-6 months to complete. Of course, if the agent identifies problems and thus wishes to look at other years’ returns, this could cause the process to drag out longer.

Finally, the IRS could conduct a field audit with you. In this situation, you’ll meet with an IRS agent at your home or business. This type of audit typically begins within one year after you have filed the return to be investigated. This type of audit usually takes the longest — around one year — as it is mostly reserved for complex small business situations and usually involves multiple years.