Business Taxes, Family Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Debt, Tax Deductions, Tax Planning, Tax Reduction, Uncategorized

What is the unpardonable sin in an IRS audit?

IRS audit

Here in our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation Office, we help clients that have been audited, and we help resolve tax debt. Suppose for a moment that you are one of our clients, and that you’ve just received that lovely letter from the IRS telling you that you are the subject of an IRS audit.

What one record receives special attention? What one record can create a nightmare for you? What one record makes the IRS suspect that you are the keeper of lousy records?

Think of the record people most hate keeping. That’s the one we are talking about. You have probably guessed what that record might be.

Red-Flag Record for the IRS Examiner

Once your audit examination begins, the examiner likes to see this record. If the record is missing or lacking, the IRS examiner knows that your other records probably are lacking, too.

This record—the one you probably hate keeping—is the mileage log on your vehicle or vehicles.

The IRS notes that a taxpayer’s failure to keep a mileage log on vehicles indicates that the activity under examination is not being conducted in a businesslike manner.

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Do as the Tax Form Says

As a one-owner or husband-and-wife-owned business, regardless of whether it’s a corporation, a partnership, or a proprietorship, you file a tax form that asks you for the following information about your vehicles:

  1. Do you have evidence to support the business/investment use claimed? (If “yes,” is the evidence written?)
  2. List your total business/investment miles on each vehicle.
  3. List your total commuting miles on each vehicle.
  4. List your total personal miles on each vehicle.

IRS Form 4562 has columns for answers to the above questions for up to six vehicles used by either a sole proprietor or an owner of more than 5 percent of a corporation, a partnership, or another entity.

The mileage log (we strongly recommend MILE IQ) is the record of proof that you need to use for your answers to the tax form questions.

Do What the Audit Would Require

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Above, we said to do as the IRS form says. For additional clarification, it is good to know what information the IRS, in a correspondence audit, requires you to provide related to that tax form:

  1. Send copies of repair receipts, inspection slips, and other records showing total mileage for the year.
  2. Send copies of logbooks and other records to support the business mileage claimed.
  3. Provide a copy of your appointment book or calendar of business activities for the year.
  4. If you are claiming actual expenses, provide copies of paid bills, invoices, and canceled checks for automobile expenses. These would include gas, oil, tires, repairs, insurance, interest, tags, taxes, parking fees, and tolls.
  5. Send a copy of the bill of sale or other verification to establish your basis in the vehicle, including the trade-in of another vehicle.

Note that the IRS is looking for

  • a match of the repair bill odometer reading with the mileage in your logbook;
  • a match of the inspection slip odometer reading with the mileage in your logbook;
  • the mileage between repair stops, to see whether that ties in with your claimed mileage; and
  • a business purpose that ties in with your appointment book or other calendar of business activities.

Takeaways

If you want to avoid big trouble during an IRS audit, keep a good mileage log. This takes just minutes a day.

The mileage log is often one of the first records that an IRS examiner will look at. A good mileage log shows that you know the rules and you respect them. We have seen dozens and dozens of IRS audits end favorably and quickly upon presentation of a good mileage log.

On the other hand, a bad mileage log can turn your IRS examiner into an 800-pound gorilla.

Think of it this way: your mileage log (we strongly recommend MILE IQ) gives you the choice to get in and out of the IRS audit quickly and with your wallet or to spend time with an 800-pound gorilla.

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!
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Business Taxes, General Information, General Tax Topics, Self Employed, Small Business, Tax Deductions, Uncategorized

Economic impact payments: What you need to know.

stimulus

Check IRS.gov for the latest information:

No action needed by most people at this time

THE INFORMATION HAS BEEN COPIED AND PASTED FROM IRS NEWSWIRE. ISSUE NUMBER:IR-2020-61, March 30, 2020

“WASHINGTON – The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. However, some seniors and others who typically do not file returns will need to submit a simple tax return to receive the stimulus payment.

Who is eligible for the economic impact payment?
Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds. Single filers with income exceeding $99,000 and $198,000 for joint filers with no children are not eligible.

Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

How will the IRS know where to send my payment?
The vast majority of people do not need to take any action. The IRS will calculate and automatically send the economic impact payment to those eligible.

For people who have already filed their 2019 tax returns, the IRS will use this information to calculate the payment amount. For those who have not yet filed their return for 2019, the IRS will use information from their 2018 tax filing to calculate the payment. The economic impact payment will be deposited directly into the same banking account reflected on the return filed.

The IRS does not have my direct deposit information. What can I do?
In the coming weeks, Treasury plans to develop a web-based portal for individuals to provide their banking information to the IRS online, so that individuals can receive payments immediately as opposed to checks in the mail.

I am not typically required to file a tax return. Can I still receive my payment?
Yes. People who typically do not file a tax return will need to file a simple tax return to receive an economic impact payment. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return will not owe tax.

How can I file the tax return needed to receive my economic impact payment?
IRS.gov/coronavirus will soon provide information instructing people in these groups on how to file a 2019 tax return with simple, but necessary, information including their filing status, number of dependents and direct deposit bank account information.

I have not filed my tax return for 2018 or 2019. Can I still receive an economic impact payment?
Yes. The IRS urges anyone with a tax filing obligation who has not yet filed a tax return for 2018 or 2019 to file as soon as they can to receive an economic impact payment. Taxpayers should include direct deposit banking information on the return.

I need to file a tax return. How long are the economic impact payments available?
For those concerned about visiting a tax professional or local community organization in person to get help with a tax return, these economic impact payments will be available throughout the rest of 2020.

Where can I get more information?
The IRS will post all key information on IRS.gov/coronavirus as soon as it becomes available.

The IRS has a reduced staff in many of its offices but remains committed to helping eligible individuals receive their payments expeditiously. Check for updated information on IRS.gov/coronavirus rather than calling IRS assistors who are helping process 2019 returns.”

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.

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Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Warns of Scam Claiming Involvement from IDFPR Official

scam

CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation is warning of a survey scam impersonating involvement from a Department official.

Targets receive a text that appears to be from Capital One that says they must complete a banking survey to receive a $50 reward. Upon closing the survey, the target receives a message claiming to be from a Department official that “thanks” them for completing the survey and lists a Department phone number. This is not from IDFPR; it is part of a phishing scam, where scammers are posing as a reputable company to steal your identity or money. The Department will never offer a reward for completing a survey or providing additional information.

To avoid falling victim to phishing scams, please do the following:

• Double-check the message you receive. There may be misspellings or other mistakes in the content of the message.
• Look up the contact information of the company and contact them directly to verify the authenticity of the message.
• Do not click links or download attachments that may be included in the message. That could lead to malware infecting your device.

If you have been the victim of identity theft or believe your personal or financial information may have been compromised, please call the toll-free Identity Theft Hotline through the Illinois Attorney General’s office at 1-866-999-5630 or 1-877-844-5461 (TTY).

Reposted from Illinois E News Release

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Congress Reinstates Expired Tax Provisions—Some Back to 2018

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Congress let many tax provisions expire on December 31, 2017, making them dead for your already- filed 2018 tax returns.

In what has become much too common practice, Congress resurrected the dead provisions retroactively to January 1, 2018. That’s good news. The bad news is that we have to amend your tax returns in our Chicago south loop tax preparation office to make this work for you.

And you can relax when filing your 2019 and 2020 tax returns, because lawmakers extended the “extender” tax laws for both years. Thus, no worries until 2021—and even longer for a few extenders that received special treatment.

Back from the Dead

The big five tax breaks that most likely impact your Form 1040 are as follows:

  1. Exclusion from income for cancellation of acquisition debt on your principal residence (up to $2 million)
  2. Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums as residence interest
  3. 7.5 percent floor to deduct medical expenses (instead of 10 percent)
  4. Above-the-line tuition and fees deduction
  5. Nonbusiness energy property credit for energy-efficient improvements to your residence

Congress extended these five tax breaks retroactively to January 1, 2018. They now expire on December 31, 2020, so you’re good for both 2019 and 2020.
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Other Provisions Revived

Congress also extended the following tax breaks retroactively to January 1, 2018, and they now expire on December 31, 2020 (unless otherwise noted):

  • Black lung disability trust fund tax
  • Indian employment credit
  • Railroad track maintenance credit (December 31, 2022)
  • Mine rescue team training credit
  • Certain racehorses as three-year depreciable property
  • Seven-year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complexes
  • Accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations
  • Expensing rules for certain film, television, and theater productions
  • Empowerment zone tax incentives
  • American Samoa economic development credit
  • Biodiesel and renewable diesel credit (December 31, 2022)
  • Second-generation biofuel producer credit
  • Qualified fuel-cell motor vehicles
  • Alternative fuel-refueling property credit
  • Two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit (December 31, 2021)
  • Credit for electricity produced from specific renewable resources
  • Production credit for Indian coal facilities
  • Energy-efficient homes credit
  • Special depreciation allowance for second-generation biofuel plant property
  • Energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction

Temporary Provisions Extended

Congress originally scheduled these provisions to end in 2019 and now extended them through 2020:

  • New markets tax credit
  • Paid family and medical leave credit
  • Work opportunity credit
  • Beer, wine, and distilled spirits reductions in certain excise taxes
  • Look-through rule for certain controlled foreign corporations
  • Health insurance coverage credit

If you have questions about the extenders, please call us at 855-743-5765. 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.

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Unlock Tax Deductions with a Rental Property Home Office

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With the start of a new tax year, you’re probably looking for new tax savings opportunities, like our Chicago South Loop Tax Preparation clients.

As you probably know, establishing a home office for your Schedule C or corporate business creates valuable tax deductions.

But it’s not available only for your proprietorship,partnership, or corporate business. If you have rental properties, you can establish a home office to manage your rental properties and deduct the cost on your Schedule E.
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Rentals as a Business

The first hurdle is that your rental activities have to qualify as a “trade or business” under the tax law.

Luckily for you, that’s relatively simple—you’ll need regular and continuous involvement with your rental activities to meet this requirement.

Whether or not your rental activities are a trade or business depends on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation, and tax court cases give us guidance on that.

Qualifying Area

Your second hurdle is setting aside space in your home that qualifies for the home-office deduction.

For this to work, you need to use that space in your residence regularly and exclusively as the principal place of business for your rental activities.
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This sounds hard, and it was hard—before lawmakers changed the rules to include, as a principal place of business, the space you use for administrative or management activities, provided there is no other fixed location where you conduct substantial administrative or management activities.

Home-Office Deduction

Establishing a rental property home office does two things to your household expenses:

  1. Turns non-deductible household expenses into tax deductions.
  2. Moves household expenses normally deductible on Schedule A to your rental properties on Schedule E.

The latter is especially important after passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  • put a $10,000 limit on your Schedule A state and local tax deductions, and
  • lowered the amount of your mortgage on which you deduct mortgage interest from $1 million to $750,000.

Eliminate Commuting

Without a qualifying home office, your mileage from home to your first business stop and then from your last business stop back home is non-deductible commuting mileage.

But here is what happens with the rental property’s principal office in your home:

  1. You have no commuting mileage from your home to and from your rentals, if the rentals are in the area of your tax home (say, within 50 miles).
  2. You establish your rental property tax home, and if your rentals are outside the area of your tax home, then the mileage from your home to and from the rentals is deductible business mileage because you are traveling outside the area of your tax home.

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Real Estate Professional

If you qualify as a real estate professional under the tax law, then you can deduct 100 percent of your rental losses in the year you incur them.

But there’s a big hurdle to the tax law classification as a real estate professional. You must show that you spend

  • more than 50 percent of your personal service work time in real property trades or businesses in which you materially participate, and
  • more than 750 hours of service during the tax year in real property trades or business in which you materially participate.

Having a rental property home office that qualifies as a tax-code-defined principal place of business makes it easier to qualify as a real estate professional, because your time spent on deductible travel to and from your rental properties counts toward the time requirements.

Claiming Your Deduction

The Schedule E instructions not only fail to provide any explanation about where to put your home-office deduction, but they also do not even mention a home office.

But the instructions do say that you can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses, and the home office meets that rule. Also, as established in Curphey (a precedent-setting case), the home office is allowable as an expense against income from a rental business.

If you would like to discuss your rental properties with me, please call us directly at 855-743-5765. 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.

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