In our South Loop Chicago tax preparation office, and in our Homewood, Il tax preparation office, we often receive calls from people that have not filed taxes in years, and they want to know how the IRS knows how much income they have receive. So how does the IRS know when a small business owner is POTENTIALLY hiding income? The IRS has many methods to detect the underreporting of income such as: taxpayer interviews, income probes, Indirect methods, accounting records; QuickBooks files, cash expenditures, bank deposits, net worth, and more; however, this article will be covering a method called the vertical analysis.
The vertical analysis method identifies the differences between gross income, and net profit reported by the business owner, and the industry standards gross income and net profit. In plain English, the IRS compares what businesses owners say their profit is in relation to expenses, to what other people in the same industry say their profit is in relation to expenses. So what data, or statistics does the IRS use to create the comparison? The IRS uses a website called Bizstats.
Information in Bizstats expresses expense categories as a percentage of revenue. Per the IRS “Potential underreporting of income which equals 10% or more of the reported income should be resolved with the taxpayer’s assistance.”
To give an example, let’s say that we have a caterer that reports $65,000 in gross sales, and $50,000 in expenses, leaving them with a profit of $15,000. The caterer’s expenses to sales ratio is 77% ($50,000 in cost to make sales (expenses)/revenue brought in.) If the industry standard is 60%, the IRS might believe that the taxpayer is hiding an additional $18,333 in revenue (50,000/60%=$83,333. $83,333-$65,000=$18,333).
So who is Bizstats? Per their website, “BizStats is owned and operated by Bizminer of Camp Hill, PA, a leader in online data analysis since 1998. Bizminer also publishes more than 9 million local and national industry statistical reports at its own web site at www.bizminer.com” Bizstats has business statistics and financial ratios for Sole proprietors, Corporations, S-Corporations, & Partnerships.
Where does Bizstats get it’s information? Per their website, Bizstats get it’s data from “the latest available IRS financial information in a useful, readable format.”
What are some drawbacks to Bizstats data? Bizstats are only available for 1 year, and the information is typically 3 years old. At the time of publication, the current stats were showing data from 2017.
How can I protect myself from a vertical analysis?
#1 Always report the GROSS income generated in your business. An accounting mistake that we often see in our Chicago South Loop tax preparation office, is that people don’t do bookkeeping, so instead of reporting their gross receipts, they report gross income less returns, refunds, etc. in the gross receipts area, which is not correct. Gross receipts are gross receipts, and you account for returns in a separate line item.
#2. Invoice clients, or keep copies of receipts if you’re in a business that doesn’t use invoicing.
#3. NEVER COMMINGLE YOUR FUNDS. Your business income and expenses need to be kept separate
Although we’ve given you the basics, this is not an all-inclusive article. Should you have questions, need help with tax debt, business tax preparation, business entity creation, business insurance, or business compliance assistance please contact us online, or call our office toll free at 1-855-743-5765 or locally in Chicago or Indiana at 1-708-529-6604. Make sure to join our newsletter for more tips on reducing taxes, and increasing your wealth. Never miss another tip again! Join our newsletter, to receive tax reduction/wealth building tips delivered right to your inbox!
P.S. For wealth building and tax reduction tips, please join Howard Tax Prep LLC newsletter!