Ask a Tax Question - Taxes
Tax This!: An Insider's Guide to Standing Up to the IRS
by Scott Estill

Tax This! An Insider's Guide to Standing Up to the IRS, is just that. It provides the insight of an insider that will help you stand up to the IRS in any situation. Little known facts and difficult to conceive strategies are revealed that will help any target of the IRS deal effectively with them or help prevent you from becoming their target.

Author Scott Estill discloses all the rights, which are many, that citizens have when confronted with a problem involving the IRS. He gives an insider's look at the culture, attitudes, and seemingly out of control bureaucracy that prevails inside the IRS and prepares you to deal with the IRS at that level also. His information is backed up by references to the Internal Revenue Code, Congressional Law, and established judicial decisions.

Tax This also provides clear examples of completed IRS forms, which are many and varied. Overall, this is an informative, easy read for someone like me with little knowledge of the IRS. It will hold your interest even if the IRS isn't breathing down your neck and may be invaluable if they are.


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The federal government thinks many taxpayers are under-report their income. IRS is auditing more people with high incomes. During 2008, the IRS audited some 287,000 returns of individual with incomes of $100,000 or more and around 113,000 returns with incomes higher than $200,000.

The tax auditor might want to take a look at your books. So how can you avoid that? The IRS tries to audit businesses on a cycle of some sort – there are “red flags” that can make your return look extra suspicious.

Here are some possible ways to prevent an IRS audit:

Keep personal and business expenses apart. The IRS looks for common ways small-business owners cheat, and one way is claiming personal expenses as business expenses. Auditors will closely scrutinize use of business-owned autos, real estate, and materials to see if the entrepreneurs uses them at all for personal use. Be extra diligent about keeping business and personal expenses separate, holding separate business and personal credit cards and bank accounts so you have clearer documentation and lessen the chance you’ll inadvertently mix expenses in your tax reporting.

Avoid “miscellaneous” expenses. Be specific. IRS tax forms filled with general deductions – especially large ones – that the IRS can’t specify are sure to raise eyebrows. Clearly label every deduction so there’s no question.

Keep organized records and receipts. Messy records look like somebody’s trying to hide something or may have forgotten to document that one big payment. Use an accounting program that allows for double-entry bookkeeping, and keep very neat records and receipts.

Got a question? Check with a tax professional. CPA Moms offers this service free. Just complete the form. A seasoned CPA Mom can not only advise you on what tax breaks are available, but should have enough experience with audits to help you minimize your risk.

Avoid the home-office deduction. Deductions are great when they save you serious money. Some entrepreneurs give second thought to taking the home-office deduction. Some businesses with high home utility costs and big home offices used exclusively for work do reap big savings. But for many, the tax break is meager compared to the potential headaches it can cause.

File an extension. People used to believe that filing for an extension increased the risk of audit. But studies have shown that filing for an extension actually reduces the audit risk at least slightly.

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