Posts Tagged ‘tax return’

How To Trigger An IRS Audit

Friday, March 25th, 2016
How To Trigger An IRS Audit - Ohio CPA

When was the last time you were happy – jubilant even – after receiving a letter from the IRS ? Exactly … Keep reading to learn how to keep the tax man out of your mailbox.

Only .84 percent of the 146.9 million individual tax returns filed in 2015 were audited by the IRS. The last time the audit rate was that low it was 2004 and most of us were walking around in Uggs. And even though the IRS says it expects to see even fewer audits in 2016, your chance of being audited tends to increase when:

You fail to report all taxable income

You will be notified if the IRS notices any inconsistencies between the taxable income reported on your tax return and the combined amount reported on your 1099s and W2s. Be sure to make the issuer of your 1099 aware of any mistakes, including incorrect income reported or receiving a form that is not yours.

You own a cash-intensive business

If you operate a taxi, car wash, bar, hair salon, restaurant or any other cash-intensive business, the IRS will be watching your tax return closely. Historically, cash-intensive businesses have been less accurate in reporting all taxable income. In response, agents are using special techniques to interview business owners and audit for unreported income.

Read Also: What’s Worse: An IRS Audit Or A Root Canal?

You claim large charitable deductions

IRS agents don’t have a problem with you philanthropic behavior, it’s the people abuse this tax deduction they have a problem with. This is another area the agency has had problems with in the past, which is why agents pay special attention to these types of deductions – especially if the deduction is disproportionately large in relation to your taxable income. So, if you are going to make a gift to a nonprofit organization, make sure to do it the right way. Keep your receipts, document everything and obtain an appraisal if the donation is for property worth more than $500 (and be sure to file Form 8283 with your return). It’s also important to note that donated cars, boats and planes continue to draw special attention.

You claim home office deductions

If you can claim the home office deduction – great! However, many are often unsuccessful because they ultimately realize that they don’t meet the strict requirements. Or, if they do successfully claim it, they overstate the deduction. For this reason, this is another area the IRS tends to scrutinize. Remember, if home office space must be used exclusively and on a regular basis as your primary place of business in order to claim a percentage of the rent, real estate taxes, utilities, phone bills, insurance and other costs.

Your claim for meals, travel and entertainment is disproportionately high

This is another area where taxpayers have made excessive claims in the past, causing the IRS to look closely at meal, travel and entertainment deductions for self-employed taxpayers. When the deduction appears too large for the business, agents look for detailed documentation including the amount, place, persons attending, business purpose and nature of the discussion or meeting.

You claimed 100% business use of a vehicle

It’s very rare that a taxpayer actually uses vehicle exclusively for business, especially if no other vehicle is available for personal use. If an IRS agent sees this type of claim, they won’t just see red flags, they will hear sirens. If you are planning to claim a percentage of your vehicle usage on your tax return, be sure to keep detailed mileage logs and precise calendar entries for the purpose of every road trip.

The best way to guard against an IRS audit is to have your business and personal tax returns prepared correctly every year by a team of tax specialists. Email Rea & Associates to learn what other red flags the IRS is looking for.

By Chad Bice, CPA (Zanesville office)

Check out these articles for even more popular tax tips:

How To Make Dealing With The IRS Less Stressful

How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing?

A Use Tax Audit Could Cost You

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Join The Fight Against Identity Theft & Income Tax Fraud

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Income tax identity theft and refund fraud has become a huge problem over the last few years; and while billions of dollars are finding their way into the pockets of fraudsters, the IRS is working hard to shut down these schemes.

The IRS paid roughly $5.8 billion dollars in fraudulent refunds to identity thieves over the course of the 2013 filing season. While that is a huge number, it could have been a lot worse. During the same time period, the amount the IRS successfully prevented or recovered totaled around $24.2 billion. But these statistics only take into consideration the fraud we know about.

Identity theft isn’t just a threat during tax season, scammers are exploiting a lot of cracks in your armor. Listen to episode 12: the great data saver on unsuitable on Rea Radio for insight from Joe Welker, CISA, Rea’s IT Audit Manager

The Unknown Number

While it is nice to know that the IRS is working hard to prevent identity theft and refund fraud, the truth is that we don’t yet have all the information to determine how bad the income tax fraud epidemic really is. This means that we continue to be at risk of becoming a fraud victim again this tax season. Perhaps if we knew how many fraudulent tax returns went on to be processed and how many billions of dollars were paid out to scammers looking to make a quick buck we could finally make some educated assumptions about the likelihood of being defrauded out of your refund check.

I don’t like not having all the necessary information.

Read Also: Ohio Department of Taxation Stops Thieves From Stealing Millions

This year, income tax fraud is expected to be higher than ever. This video, produced by abc6 out of Columbus, Ohio, shines more light on the topic of identity theft in Ohio.

Calling In Reinforcements

The IRS has realized that identity theft and refund fraud are threats that are showing no signs of going away. So the agency has requested help. The Internal Revenue Service, in cooperation with state tax administrators and tax industry leaders, has formed a public-private sector partnership to identify and test more than 20 new data elements on tax return submissions that will be shared with the IRS to detect and prevent fraudulent filings. The software industry is doing its part by putting enhanced identity validation requirements in place to protect customers and their personal information from identity thieves.

As of October 2015, 34 state departments of revenue and 20 tax industry members have signed memorandums of understanding regarding coalition’s roles, responsibilities and information sharing measures. More states are expected to sign on later.

Taxpayers Are Encouraged To Fight Back Against Fraud

Over the last 3 years, the IRS has initiated more than 3,000 fraud investigations. Those investigations have gone forward to convict and sentence close to 2,000 thieves to around 40 months in prison apiece. But there is still much to be done. They are doing their part.  We as taxpayers have to do ours.

In January, the IRS launched the “Taxes. Security. Together.” initiative to educate taxpayers on income tax identity theft and ways they can safeguard their information and protect themselves. According to the agency, there are several ways you can protect yourself from identity theft – especially during tax season:

  • Keep your computer secure
  • Avoid phishing email and malware
  • Protect your personal information

Above all, choose your tax preparer wisely and make sure they take their responsibility to safeguard your information very seriously. A tax preparer can also help if you do encounter a situation in which your information could be compromised.

By Ashley Matthews, CPA (Dublin office)

Want to take steps to ensure that you won’t be a fraud victim this year? These articles feature information that can help.

Should I still be concerned about identity theft and tax fraud?

How can you protect yourself from tax fraud

Identity Theft Prevention: Tips To Reduce Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

How To Recover From Identity Theft & Refund Fraud

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Debt vs. Taxes: Should You Pay Off Your Loan

Friday, October 9th, 2015
Loan Repayment - Ohio CPA Firm

Without the tax deduction, you will pay a little more in income taxes but you will be left with more money in your bank account at the end of the day.

Have you ever heard someone say they couldn’t afford to pay off their loan because they would lose the interest deduction on their tax return?

Although it’s true that the taxpayer will be able to deduct their loan interest at tax time, there’s a lot more to consider – read on to learn more about the tax treatment of loans and interest to identify a repayment strategy that works best for you.

Read Also: Don’t Let Tax Incentives Determine How You Donate

It Is Worth It To Be In Debt?

Let’s assume that you are in the 25 percent tax bracket, which means that for every dollar you pay the bank in interest, the government will give you 25 cents back in tax savings. BUT – you have to remember that you are still out of pocket 75 cents of every dollar you pay the bank in interest. From an overall cash flow standpoint, that doesn’t really sound like a winning strategy to me.

Even though it would be nice to have a tax break to look forward to in the spring, you will ultimately end up paying more over the duration of your repayment period if you choose not to pay your loan off. That being said, if you have the funds available to pay off the principal loan balance you will save yourself the cost of the interest you are being charged by the bank.

Without the tax deduction, you will pay a little more in income taxes but you will be left with more money in your bank account at the end of the day.

Possible Reasons to Hold On To Your Loan

  • Investment Opportunities

Let’s say your loan balance is $50,000. If you have $50,000 of excess funds available to pay off your loan, you may also want to consider what your investment options are if you didn’t pay that loan off. Could you earn a rate of return greater than the interest rate you are paying on your loan? If so, then you may be better off keeping the loan and investing your excess funds.

  • Liquidity

Another consideration is the liquidity. You may have the funds to pay off the loan but you may want to keep a reserve of funds for an emergency or unknown need that may arise. Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to maintaining an excess supply of cash reserves and your decision may vary whether you are holding on to a home mortgage loan or a business loan. As a business owner, for example, you might find it to be more beneficial to keep the borrowed money readily available to cover any fluctuations pertaining to your company’s equipment or inventory needs. Or you may want to keep a reserve of funds to get through your slow season.

Depending on where you are with your business or personal finances, you’ll want to consider various factors when deciding if you should pay off your mortgage or business loan. If you are only looking at the tax savings, then paying off the loan is likely your best option. However, it may also be important to consider other factors such as alternative investment options and liquidity. If you have questions about paying off your loan, email your Rea advisor.

By Mark Fearon, CPA (New Philadelphia office)

Are you looking for more tips and tax breaks to maintain your financial security? Check out these articles for more tips and advice.

Become A Brank Reconciliation Warrior

Does Your Vacation Home Provide Tax Relief?

The Birth Of The Taxpayer’s Estate

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How Can You Best Prepare For The Upcoming Tax Season?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means. I’m not talking about shopping or decorating or eating until your heart’s content. I’m talking about cleaning out those filing cabinets and getting ready for tax time! The more prepared and organized you can be as you approach tax season, the smoother a process you can create for yourself or your business.  (more…)

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Want to Look Back in Time? See an 1864 Tax Return

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Recently blogger Paul Caron, a professor of law at Cincinnati College of Law, shared an IRS tax form from 1864. The form was two pages, and 10 questions. As our country considers ways to simplify our current tax laws, it may make sense to look at where and how our tax laws began nearly 150 years ago. (more…)

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