Five tips to help small businesses reduce the risk of a tax audit.
While you cannot assure someone that they will be able to avoid a business tax audit, you can help them reduce the risk. You will also notice that most of these items are generally good advice, so if you do find yourself facing a small business tax audit, you can feel a little better knowing you followed these principles. While you still made some mistakes (especially if you do not follow item #1) at least you will know that you were on the right track, which is important when you are dealing with a business tax audit.
- Hire a professional: Unlike most personal returns, business returns are more complex and usually have multiple forms to fill out just to file a single business tax return. For this reason it is important to hire a professional and not leave your business to chance. This is most important if you do not know what types of expenses you can include on your business return. This step alone assures that you have a professional to work with you, if you do face a business tax audit.
- Be honest: While it is tempting to “fudge the numbers” if you are facing a small business tax audit, it is much better to know that you have followed at least reasonable standards of filing and that you have a process in place to be able to review the numbers.
- Review the numbers: Depending upon the tools you use in your business, it may be very hard to review the numbers in your business. This is actually a big reason why we recommend that all businesses use some formal accounting system. Without a formal accounting system, not only might you be under reporting your income. You actually might be under reporting your expenses as well (we find both in business). In a business tax audit situation it is important to be able to rely upon your processes to find errors.
- Watch your deductibles: We have a theory that you should not pay one more dollar than necessary in taxes. That does not mean that you make numbers up. It also doesn’t mean that you leave numbers out. If you are in business you have more accounting and record keeping duties than an individual taxpayer, this is just part of your duties. But, there are ways to make sure you are reporting all of your business income and expenses. That is a large reason why CPAs are in business. If you are struggling with business accounting, hire someone that can help you out. This is what we do every day.
- File electronically: When you fill out your tax return by hand, you increase the chance for errors at multiple times. Business and personal returns can be very complex, but they become more complex when you attempt to fill out the forms by hand (most preparers would have a hard time filling out a tax return by hand as well). Computer software has streamlined the process of filling out and filing a return.
If you would like personal advice on some tax issues you have, and you are worried about a business tax audit (or you have received a tax audit notice), reach out to us. We are business and personal advisors that have an extensive background in business and personal taxation and can help you with your problem.
This is a blog article that uses content as included in a recent article by: CPA Practice Advisor. However, some of this material is new material. If you would like to check out the original article, click here.