You have filed your taxes and IRS sends you a notice asking you to explain certain deductions — No Problem; IF you have followed the rules:
Rule #1 – The burden of proof of your deductions are on you.
Rule #2 – If you keep good records with receipts, notes and invoices — you win!
Its that simple.
However, If your Tax Professional, or you have placed incorrect amounts on the tax return — and IRS ask for clarification — you may have a problem. How serious the problem becomes, depends on the “IRS Human’s” interpretation of how the error occurred. The “IRS Human” usually will request proof of your deductions. Of course, if you do not have proof and there is no evidence that the figures are anywhere near correct — you might be looking at a fraudulent return status.
It does not matter that your Tax Professional put the numbers on the tax return — What matters is that you signed the tax return.
The bottom line is; Do not allow Tax Professionals to put incorrect information on your tax return. You are responsible for YOUR return.
Many Tax Professionals will help clients with a “best guest estimate” for example, you have a cell phone and the phone was turned on and available for business use 12 months out of the year. You do not know the exact amount of the cell phone bill paid each month. Your tax professional may take the base of your
monthly bill and multiply by 12, and add a small amount for additional minutes used — this may or may not be OK with IRS — however, more then likely they won’t question the deduction, if it is within reason.
Suggestions on how to win the Record-Keeping Game are as follows:
1. Slow down, pay attention to details when it comes to tax deductions
2. For business expenditures; pay by check when possible
3. Keep recites and invoices in a safe place
4. Track all business mileage (Write down date, beginning mileage, ending mileage, clients visited and/or nature of business)
5. Use a credit card or ATM for ALL travel, entertainment and Business Gifts ($25.00 limit on business gifts)
6. If you must use cash to pay for an item or a service; put a note in your recite drawer stating what you paid, when and how much)
7. When traveling away from home on business; keep a log of your expenses. (especially cab fares and tips)
8. Keep track of dues for professional organizations such as business league, trade associations, cambers of commerce, boards of trade and real estate boards.
9. Don’t forget to keep records of your cost for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) , email campaigns, online marketing cost, PPC (pay per click cost) and web design.
10. If you Factor your Accounts Receivables, get a business loan or line of credit, or cash advance for your retail business, remember that ALL fees associated with these loans/transactions are tax deductible.
Example of Excellent Record Keeping:
You are traveling on business. It cost you $32.50 round-trip for the cab fare to a business meeting from your hotel, on one day and $27.00 for cab fare the next day for a different meeting — You tipped the bellman $2.00 each time he ordered a cab for you. (Yes, you could stay in a hotel that is closer to the meeting, but you would rather stay downtown) This is a $59.50 legal deductions that many people forget about, because it was not on paper. Lets say this happens four times a year; same meeting, same hotel. $59.50 X 4 = $238.00; is the deduction that you may forget; if you don’t keep notes.