Topel Forman News

]

Today’s Small Business Tax Brief – October 2, 2019

The chances of an IRS audit are low, but business owners should be prepared

Many business owners ask: How can I avoid an IRS audit? The good news is that the odds against being audited are in your favor. In fiscal year 2018, the IRS audited approximately 0.6% of individuals. Businesses, large corporations and high-income individuals are more likely to be audited but, overall, audit rates are historically low.

There’s no 100% guarantee that you won’t be picked for an audit, because some tax returns are chosen randomly. However, completing your returns in a timely and accurate fashion with our firm certainly works in your favor. And it helps to know what might catch the attention of the IRS.

Audit red flags

A variety of tax-return entries may raise red flags with the IRS and may lead to an audit. Here are a few examples:

  • Significant inconsistencies between previous years’ filings and your most current filing,
  • Gross profit margin or expenses markedly different from those of other businesses in your industry, and
  • Miscalculated or unusually high deductions.

Certain types of deductions may be questioned by the IRS because there are strict recordkeeping requirements for them ― for example, auto and travel expense deductions. In addition, an owner-employee salary that’s inordinately higher or lower than those in similar companies in his or her location can catch the IRS’s eye, especially if the business is structured as a corporation.

How to respond

If you’re selected for an audit, you’ll be notified by letter. Generally, the IRS won’t make initial contact by phone. But if there’s no response to the letter, the agency may follow up with a call.

Many audits simply request that you mail in documentation to support certain deductions you’ve taken. Others may ask you to take receipts and other documents to a local IRS office. Only the harshest version, the field audit, requires meeting with one or more IRS auditors. (Note: Ignore unsolicited email messages about an audit. The IRS doesn’t contact people in this manner. These are scams.)

Keep in mind that the tax agency won’t demand an immediate response to a mailed notice. You’ll be informed of the discrepancies in question and given time to prepare. You’ll need to collect and organize all relevant income and expense records. If any records are missing, you’ll have to reconstruct the information as accurately as possible based on other documentation.

If the IRS chooses you for an audit, our firm can help you:

  • Understand what the IRS is disputing (it’s not always crystal clear),
  • Gather the specific documents and information needed, and
  • Respond to the auditor’s inquiries in the most expedient and effective manner.

Don’t panic if you’re contacted by the IRS. Many audits are routine. By taking a meticulous, proactive approach to how you track, document and file your company’s tax-related information, you’ll make an audit much less painful and even decrease the chances that one will happen in the first place.

© 2019

About Topel Forman

What makes our firm special

Contact Us

Reach out to Topel Forman

Services

Learn what we have to offer

If you have questions, please reach out to your Topel Forman contact.

 

Related News Posts

Stories From Women In Accounting

Stories From Women In Accounting

For International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month our Women’s Employee Resource Group and our DEI Committee hosted a panel featuring six of our professionals from tax, audit and operations. They had an inspiring and insightful conversation about their unique experiences navigating motherhood, external and self-made expectations, and being able to maintain a balanced life. Here are some highlights from our discussion: 

read more
Proposed Legislation: The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024

Proposed Legislation: The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024

On January 19, 2024, the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives successfully propelled HR 7024 forward, known as the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024.” The bill is the outcome of an agreement established earlier that week between the Ways and Means Committee’s Chairman Smith and the Senate Finance Committee’s Chairman Wyden.

read more
The standard business mileage rate will be going up slightly in 2024

The standard business mileage rate will be going up slightly in 2024

The optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible cost of operating an automobile for business will be going up by 1.5 cents per mile in 2024. The IRS recently announced that the cents-per-mile rate for the business use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 67 cents (up from 65.5 cents for 2023).

read more