Posts Tagged ‘Audit’

When Should You File Your Tax Return?

January 7, 2014

IRS ReturnThe IRS announced that it would begin accepting individual tax returns (Forms 1040 and 1041) on January 31, 2014.  Business returns (Forms 1120, 1120S and 1065 ) will start being accepted on Jan 13, 2014.  Unincorporated businesses that report their income on Form 1040 Schedule C, Schedule E or Schedule F are not included as business returns so the January 31 date applies.

When is the best time to file your tax return?  There is a simple answer.  That depends.

Many people want to file their returns early to get their refund back as soon as possible.  That is one consideration.  If you have a simple return and really need the money this is probably a good strategy for you.  And yet there are other considerations.

The earlier you file your return, the more months the IRS has to decide if there is something that needs further explanation.  More months of exposure to IRS examination.

And the later you file, the more returns are already in the audit pipeline when yours arrives.  This may reduce your audit exposure (but no guarantees).  Many of our clients pay their tax when they file their extension on April 15 but wait until October 15 to file the actual return for this very reason.

Look at all your personal factors and then decide what is best for you.  If you have a question, contact a tax professional.

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Are You Ready?

October 23, 2013

Selected for AuditOur tax software vendor just let us know that “According to IRS tax gap studies, small businesses account for 40% of the $450 billion annual loss in tax revenue to the US Treasury, largely due to the under-reporting of income and overstating of credits and deductions. As a result, the IRS focuses much of its audit activity on small businesses, especially in field audit examinations.”  Let’s see, 40% of $450 billion (with a “B”)…that is not pocket change.

However, this is really not surprising.   Small business has always been a prime target for the IRS.  Many times the business owner is good at creating and delivering their product or service but not quite as good at the administrative side.  So if you were the IRS, would you audit a well-prepared business that  has their records in perfect shape and understands the tax law or would you go after the under-prepared small business owner.  Hmmmm.  Let me think.

The IRS will tell you that their goal is to determine the correct tax liability (whatever that means).   However, if they can disallow a deduction because of bad records or no records, it is much easier and faster than spending hours going through records and arguing tax law with a Taxpayer or their representative.

I had an IRS Appeals Officer once tell me that more deductions were disallowed because of inadequate records than for tax law interpretations.  This has been the case since I was an IRS Agent and will probably continue until people learn to keep better records.  The most frequently disallowed deductions are vehicle expenses, meals & entertainment and travel simply because the required documentation is clearly defined in the Internal Revenue Code (The Law).

Are you ready for an IRS Audit?  You only have one chance with the Auditor to show the credibility of your records.  If you fail that first impression, you should prepare to spend a lot of time with the Auditor and write a sizable check at the end .

Records don’t have to be complicated to be credible.  Ask yourself “Am I willing to spend a little time on keeping records NOW that will save me considerable money and time in the future?” Good records can also  significantly add to your peace of mind.  Priceless.

MyTaxBuddy is a simple-to-use system that you use from your smartphone, tablet and computer and provides complete, IRS-credible records for all your income, activity and expenses, all in one place.  Having all the pieces required for travel, meals & entertainment and vehicle mileage documentation is not difficult if you can remember it all.  We provide the structure. MyTaxBuddy is as simple as using an online calendar.   If you start today it could save your bacon when the IRS comes calling.  That is why we are your Buddy!

Big Numbers Attract Attention

September 6, 2013

Rising incomeAccording to the IRS, there were approximately 23.4 million individual income tax returns that reported nonfarm sole proprietorship activity, a 1.8-percent increase from 2010. Profits reported on these returns rose to $282.6 billion in 2011, a 5.6-percent increase over 2010.

These numbers sound impressive until you break them down to the individual level.  If we divided the total amount of the profits by the total number of returns, we find that the average business Schedule C shows a profit of less than 12,000 and the average weekly increase in profits was $12.30.   Some businesses were more.  Some less.

Big numbers can draw attention.  Small ones are easy to ignore.  Think about this when you look at your business tax schedule.   What kinds of expenses are drawing the attention of the IRS for audit?  Are they the kind of expenses that could possibly be personal and disallowed on audit?  Hmmmm.

When preparing your taxes, go to the other side of the desk and ask yourself, “If I were an IRS Agent (perish the thought), what things on this return would I look at to audit?”   I’m not saying you should not take the deductions that you are entitled to take.  Far from it.  Judge Learned Hand once wrote “Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible;”  Good advice.

However, the Roman poet Horace reminds us that “he who is greedy is always in want”.

Oh yeah. I’ve got it.

August 16, 2013

I Got ItWhen the IRS calls and decides that they want to audit your business records, you will want to be sure they are credible long before you get “the letter.”

Credible means that you have receipts and other documents from your suppliers and vendors along with your notes made “at or near” the time of the activity.

And when the Auditor or Agent asks for something, you will want to be able to say “Oh yeah.  I’ve got it.”  That way they know you have excellent records and it could significantly shorten the length and intensity of your audit.

If you have to go home and “find” the records, there is a question as to the accuracy and authenticity because you might have created the records after the IRS asked for them (not that anyone would do that, of course).  Herman Wouk once said “Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.” Don’t let this be your return.

Vehicle deductions , travel and meals must also be documented and logged.  The information required for these deductions are specifically referenced in the Internal Revenue Code and are a favorite target of the IRS because most people don’t know what is required and don’t have the required records.

We had a client that thought they didn’t need to keep receipts because they had entered the information into their accounting program.  The IRS disallowed thousands of dollars in deductions because those third party records and the proper notations were not available on the first appointment. And the IRS Agent camped out at our office to check almost everything.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Keep good business records and keep them now to maintain your tax deductions.  Credible records don’t happen by accident.

If you are looking for a simple online record-keeping system that you can use from your smartphone or computer, may we recommend our simple system – http://www.MyTaxBuddy.com.  In the time it takes to answer an email, you have done your tax recording.  So simple you can start right now.  Don’t put it off and pay more tax because of poor records or no records.


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