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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Home Businesses Need to Know About Auditing

Learn What You Can Do To Beat An IRS Audit

The factors that contribute to home business complications primarily concern keeping adequate, substantial records that indicate the influx of money alongside reasonable deductions that won't get you flagged for an audit.

Operating a  small business  can be  productive and exhilarating, but such proprietors  face a bevy of  issues that are unique to  “mom and pop” establishments. Add to this the fact that the company is operating from your home and things get even trickier. 

For instance, writing off  an off-site office as a business expense is a no brainer, as  one can establish the need to pay rent,  electricity, water and any other related  employee housing disbursement.  When it comes to  a home office however, you have to detail, with all due precision, the increments in which one uses things such as  supplies, water, lights,  and even the internet for business related purposes.  Some  may calculate erroneously and in  some cases fraudulently,  so more often than not, writing such things off can and/or  may  lead to an IRS audit.

How Would a Home Business Get Pinged for Audit?

The IRS considers and evaluates a home business  as it would any other,  while being aware of the limitations of such companies.  In other words, the criteria may remain the same but not the methodology  to factor in potential abuses or mistakes in reporting.

DIF Scoring  Rings Audit Bells   –  if there are enough red flags on your tax return, you could trigger what is known as a DIF  (Discriminatory Index Function) flag.  The DIF is a mathematical measurement that weighs  the possibility of audit based on certain income tax filing characteristics. In other words, if too much is out of whack on the form, it will trigger a high enough DIF to provoke an investigation.  This process is utilizes for all types of businesses, but can be problematic for home businesses, where certain nuances, like business expenses and home office space calculations, can be hard to assess properly.  With this being the case, even a mindful home business owner can  land themselves in IRS hot water.

Regular and Exclusive – Another issue, as discussed previously, is duly calculating the home office space, its requirements and  uses.  Getting this precisely right is important, as the IRS determines home office use in its tax audit assessments.  The evaluation  examines how  “regular” and “exclusive” office use is in relation to  home versus business life.  In order for a home office to  establish “office/ work viability” the IRS has to look at how regularly the room is used for business and how exclusively it is used for said business purposes.  For this reason, there are things one can indicate on  one's tax form that could give an agent the notion to investigate the in home set up. This would involve  making sure the small business owner  observed governmental and tax guidelines, like dedicating the space for work alone e.g. no watching Netflix and  having movie nights in the home office.

Examination of 1099 and W2's – a simple yet effective way that IRS agents can assess probable issues is by comparing  1099's or  w2's to the tax documents  themselves. This easy method of matching will tell an agent right away if there are any pertinent discrepancies in income reporting.

Beat the audit by looking for deductions – If you find yourself in the cross hairs of an IRS audit, it may very well pay to look for deductions wherever you can.  Many home business owners do  not now  for instance that they can write off things like utilities  and even business related phones calls.  If you have  relevant records on hand, they may be  able to be used to offset any taxes the IRS may calculate against you.

Locate  a Reputable  CPA – strong credentials  matter, so if your small home business is facing IRS scrutiny, contact a company like GBC Income Tax Service of Atlanta  and learn what you can do to beat the odds and increase your chances of a positive outcome.


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