Posts Tagged ‘Business’

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!

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So They Paid You In Cash

October 10, 2013

Pay in CashSo your customer paid you in cash.  For some businesses that is a time to celebrate because they feel that they don’t have to report cash.  Notice we said “feel” and not “THINK”.  Let’s look at the bigger picture here and really THINK this through.

Section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code (yawn) clearly states that “… gross income means all income from whatever source derived”.  That is the law.  If it comes through your business, chances are it is gross income and should be reported.

Well, you say, I like to push the limits.  I drive over the speed limit, but not a lot.  A few bucks never hurt anyone.  That is what you tell yourself.  Rational Lies.

Consider this.  If your internal controls (or lack of them) are so loose that it is easy for you to take out cash without running it through your books, then perhaps your employees feel that they can do the same.  I mean, if you skim cash from the business then it must be OK for them to do it.  Is that really OK with you. I seriously doubt it.

Then let’s go to the extreme.  You get comfortable not reporting income and  the numbers start getting bigger and bigger.  Then the IRS comes in and they decide that they are going to make an example out of your case and prosecute you criminally for income tax evasion.  First, you will incur lots of attorney and accountants fees because, as the old adage goes, “the lawyer that represents himself has a fool for a client”.

Then you will probably go in front of a jury of your peers.  Now most of these “peers” on the jury are probably  W-2 employees and not in a position to omit any income from their tax return. They will NOT understand nor appreciate that you are trying to get away with it.  They can’t so why should you.  Guilty.

There is nothing wrong in being aggressive with your taxes.  But ask yourself, is it really worth the risk.  If you are going to take a risk, at least look at the downsides.

And also remember – Pigs get fat.  Hogs get slaughtered.

An Expense By Any Other Name

September 11, 2013

RoseA tax deduction is a tax deduction is a tax deduction.

People ask me all the time “What should I call this expense or that?” If you can show that there is a business purpose, it doesn’t matter to the IRS what you call it.  What is important is what it means to you in managing your business.

If you purchase an inkjet cartridge to print off brochures, you could call it computer supplies, advertising, office supplies, printing or anything else that has a meaning for you.

I once had a client bring in her list of expenses and saw a category called ESP.  When I asked her what that was, she told me Error Some Place.  Since it took place in her business account, we took the deduction (of course we called it something else).  And at the same time don’t use a label that will call attention to the deduction either.

The important thing is to keep your records and receipts so that when the IRS asks, you can easily support your deductions.

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”.

Good Records – Timeless Advice

September 3, 2013

Luca Pacioli Luca Pacioli*, the father of modern accounting,  wrote:

“If you are not a good bookkeeper in your business, you will go on groping like a blind man and may meet great losses.”

Not only that, but you are dead meat in front of an IRS Auditor.

You don’t need to be an accountant, bookkeeper or tax expert to have good documentation.  The best records system for you is the one you will actually use.

If you have been telling yourself, “One day I will start keeping better records” and then you put it off (yet again), we invite you to visit http://www.MyTaxBuddy.com for a simple and yet flexible system.

Good tax records can support your tax deductions which could gift you with hundreds or thousands in tax savings.

Make today the day you stop your worry and begin gaining deductions.

Listen to Father Luca.

*Luca Pacioli – a 15th century monk, Father of modern accounting and Leonardo DaVinci’s mathematics teacher.  The above quote is from In The Rules of Double-Entry Bookkeeping ( Particularis de Computis et scripturis).


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