|Stay Alert, Stay Aware!|
you don't have much time on your hands as a small business owner to deal with combing through every aspect of your financial records to avoid an audit.
With the help of a professional CPA, you can easily prepare and avoid pitfalls by being aware of the most common triggers of an audit.
The IRS uses a computer program called the Discriminate Function System (DIF) that analyzes returns and flags them if they are outside statistical norms. When a return receives a high DIF score, an agent reviews it to determine if it should undergo an audit.
Therefore, here are the appropriate areas to ensure are squeaky clean:
- IF YOU HAVE A HIGH INCOME: 0.9 percent of people who make less than $200,000 were audited last year, compared to 10.9 percent of those who made $1 million or more.
- OUT OF PROPORTION DEDUCTIONS: The IRS uses tables to determine how much is too much for different income brackets when it comes to deductions, although the tables are not made public. For example, an IRS agent will want to know more if you claim charitable deductions that are not in line with your income.
- ROUNDING AND AVERAGING YOUR NUMBERS: Most folks appreciate rounding, but when it comes to IRS Agents, they tend to believe that if you’re sloppy in this area, the rest of your return may not be entirely accurate.
- HOME OFFICE DEDUCTIONS ARE TRICKY: The requirements necessary to take this deduction are not relaxed. Many don't know that a portion of a room does not qualify, even if that large corner of your bedroom is taking up space where you don't do anything personal. Click here for the Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction that the IRS came up with last year. And follow the rules!!
- IF YOU CLAIM BUSINESSES LOSSES YEAR AFTER YEAR: The IRS may assume you are taking deductions you’re not entitled to in order to avoid paying taxes. They know, for example, that many claim hobby expenses (follow link to read more) as business losses, which is illegal under the tax code.
- FILING SCHEDULE C DOES INVITE MORE SCRUTINY: But don't let fear of an audit keep you from claiming legal deductions. Just do it accurately and keep clean records. Or, if you think it may be time to set up your business as a separate entity instead, read more here.
- EXCESSIVE BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT DEDUCTIONS: If you’re going to deduct these types of expenses, you must keep records for each write-off that includes when and where it occurred, who was in attendance, the purpose as it relates to your business, and a record of what was talked about. You’ll also need to keep receipts for expenses greater than $75 when you’re traveling for business.
- CLAIM YOUR VEHICLE FOR 100% BUSINESS USE? This will raise a flag. Also, when deducting for business use of a car, you’ll have to choose between the IRS standard mileage rate and actual expenses. Deducting both of these on your tax return will bring the IRS knocking.
So be smart and make sure you consider these issues in your tax records carefully, but then relax, for there is good news:
The new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said that last year less than 1 percent of all returns underwent an audit, and only 0.6 percent of business returns (meaning 0.006)!