How would you like an audit?
Cash strapped and bankrupt governments everywhere are looking for more tax money. Your money, my friend.
Beware small business owner! It is one thing to make money. Now more than ever you have to have the smarts to keep it.
The following information comes from a longtime friend and advisor of mine, tax representative Dan White :
There are two categories that generate the highest probability of interest for the tax department and the inevitable audit:
- those who are self-employed and claim a lot of deductions
- those who earn over a million dollars
You need to have your accounting system set up so you are audit ready. Off the shelf accounting software does not do this. Auditors know that the better the bookkeeping, the less booty there will be for them. If you are audit ready they may decide to pass you by and go on to easier pickings.
Here are Dan White’s 10 recommendations for you to avoid an audit:
1. Report everything you’re supposed to, no matter how small the amount. A lot of small amounts are an indicator of a detailed bookkeeper.
2. Make sure you include absolutely every form you receive without exception. This is the first thing to avoid being sloppy about at tax time.
3. Meet all your filing deadlines. File in the middle of the rush but before the final deadline. Don’t do anything to set yourself apart. You don’t want to do anything to suggest you’re being anything less than 100% compliant.
4. If you cannot afford to pay your full amount of tax owing, it is a good idea to include a partial payment, it shows a good faith payment and is less likely to move into IRS/CRA collections. Once you are in their cross hairs, all they see is a lying cheating tax evader.
5. Don’t be greedy. People have a tendency to be too aggressive in claiming their business expense deductions. Only deduct what you’re legally entitled to.
6. The statement that you have to pay some tax, is true only when you actually have a net income. Paying tax when you have a business loss is not only dumb but it makes you a person of interest.
7. If you have a home office, make sure you understand the rules. There can not be any personal use of the space and your office needs to be your centre of operations.
8. You need to have each expense documented to prove it relates to your business. Without this documentation an auditor will deny the business expense and consider it as personal.
9. If you are in a start up business, especially when converting a hobby into a business, make sure you set yourself up properly as a business in every possible way. Document that your venture has the potential to make money. Be able to show that there are other people doing it for a profit; that you possess the necessary knowledge and experience and that you are putting in the time and energy necessary for it to someday succeed. You need to have the trappings of a real business: business number, business plan, marketing plan, business cards, letterhead, a web site, a budget, and a daily journal of activities. Your record keeping must be impeccable. At your third year of losses, you can expect an audit that could very well cost you all your deductions and end up giving you the shaft.
10. Choose your tax preparer carefully. Since you and not the preparer, are legally responsible for what’s submitted, you want to make sure the professional you use is ethical and skilled. Also make note that it is not in the tax preparers best interest to be aggressive, so you better keep good records, failing which your tax preparer will not want to include numerous expenses. Understand that your tax preparer is subject to serious civil penalties for overly aggressive tax returns.
I gratefully accept your comments and feedback.
May there be peace in our hearts.
May there be peace for all humanity.
May there be perfect peace on earth.
In Canada – Tax Audit Solutions