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The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "[n]o person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." This privilege against self-incrimination not only protects criminal defendants from being forced to testify at trial, but it also provides all individuals with the right to refuse to answer questions that may provide a "link in the chain of evidence needed to prosecute" them.1 The ability to refuse to answer questions during an investigation is especially important in civil tax audits because responding to questions posed by an IRS revenue agent seeking additional taxes, interest and penalties may lead to a referral to a special agent who will attempt to brand the taxpayer a criminal and deprive him of his liberty. Indeed, attorneys representing taxpayers in high-risk, "eggshell" audits frequently struggle with the issue of whether (and when) the client should assert the privilege against self-incrimination.

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