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IRS Guidlines To Audit Small Businesses

IRS agents are trained on specific audit techniques for different industries. The guides that these agents are trained to use are referred to as Audit Techniques Guides (ATGs), and they focus on providing guidance for examiners in different market segments. These guides are so crucial to the IRS because they create consistency in their audits, since everyone is using the same guidelines.

The ATGs usually consist of; common and rare industry issues, techniques for examinations, jargon for that particular industry, business practices, and any other information that can assist them in the examination process.

Once you receive a notice of an audit, it would be wise to review the ATG for your industry in depth with your representative. The reason any business owner can find value in these guides is due to the abundance of information you can find. The audit target will give you an advanced view of what to expect in the exam, that way you can prepare a strong defense instead of walking into the exam blind. These documents even give the revenue agent resources within the IRS database to find out; credit scores, currency transaction reports, and information returns that were provided to the taxpayer by third parties.

And if you’re thinking about trying to hide sources of income, think again. These reports are so in depth, that they provide methodologies for finding any cash income that went unreported. So, to ensure the best possible outcome in the case of an audit, it’s essential for the taxpayer to perform a thorough review of the appropriate ATG.

The guides below can be viewed at the IRS website address: Remember to find the most appropriate guideline for your business.

NOTE: The dates that these guides were issued are shown next to them. These guides are up to date as of October, 2016.

1. Aerospace Industry; 01/05
2. Air Transportation; 04/08
3. Architects and Landscape Architects; 08/2011
4. Art Galleries – Audit Technique Guide; 01/2012
5. Attorneys Audit Technique Guide; 03/2011
6. Business Consultants; 07/2011
7. Capitalization v Repairs; 11/2010
8. Cash Intensive Businesses; 04/2010
9. Child Care Provider; 03/09
10. Coal Excise Tax; 05/05
11. Commercial Banking; 5/01
12. Conservation Easement; 11/2011
13. Continuation of Employee Healthcare Coverage; 03/2012
14. Construction Industry; 05/09
15. Cost Segregation; 01/14/05
16. Credit for Increasing Research Activities (i.e. Research Tax Credit) IRC§41; 06/05
17. Entertainment Audit Technique Guide; 10/2015
18. Equity (Stock) – Based Compensation Audit Techniques Guide; 08/2015
19. Excise Tax on Indoor Tanning; 7/2012
20. Executive Compensation – Fringe Benefits; 02/04/05
21. Factoring of Receivables; 06/06
22. Farmers; 07/06
23. Fishing Audit Technique Guide; 08/2011
24. Foreign Insurance Excise Tax; 04/08
25. Golden Parachutes; 02/04/05
26. Hardwood Timber Industry; 12/2012
27. IC-DISC Audit Guide: 03/2012
28. Inland Waterways: 12/08
29. IRC 162(m) Salary Deduction Limitation: 02/04/05
30. IRC § 183: Activities Not Engaged in For Profit: 06/19/09
31. The Laundromat Industry: 6/00
32. Lawsuit Awards and Settlements: 01/11
33. Low-Income Housing Credit – Guide for Completing Form 8823: 08/2015
34. Ministers: 04/23/09
35. New Markets Tax Credit: 05/2010
36. New Vehicle Dealership Audit Technique: 1/05
37. Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation: 06/15
38. Obligations Not in Registered Form: 6/06
39. Obligations Not in Registered Form D: 06/2006
40. Oil and Gas Industry: 5/96
41. Ozone Depleting Chemicals (ODC) Excise Tax: 9/07
42. Partnerships: 3/08
43. Passive Activity: 02/05
44. Placer Mining: 7/99
45. The Port Project: 8/95
46. Real Estate Property Foreclosure and Cancellation of Debt: 2/15
47. Reforestation: 8/95
48. Rehabilitation Tax Credit: 12/02
49. Research Credit Claims: Credit for Increasing Research Activities §41: 5/08
50. Retail Industry: 2/09
51. Sections 48A and 48B – Advanced Coal and Gasification Project Credits: 5/09
52. Split Dollar Life Insurance: 3/05
53. Wine Industry: 05/2011

Simply put, it will be in the taxpayers’ best interest to thoroughly review these ATGs with their representative when the IRS decides to open an audit.

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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Letters from the IRS

The consequences of ignoring any sort of communication from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be severe. The notices typically require more information on your end and will specifically explain the issue and exactly what you need to do – don’t let them scare you out of responding.

You must first determine whether or not the notice is legitimate. IRS scammers are on the rise and you’ll want to identify them sooner rather than later. That being said, you don’t have to respond to everything! Some letters are sent to simply notify you of changes on your account or updates to your file. If you notice something wrong, then you should respond with information that the IRS can use to adjust the discrepancies. Otherwise, there is no need to send a response.

Letters from the IRS will have a number in the upper right-hand corner for you to call if you have any questions or concerns. They provide a list of sample letter that are usually sent out and why they are sent – see here.

When there is a serious issue that the IRS is trying to inform you about, they will take more serious actions and you may end up owing money or spending time in jail if you are completely unresponsive. There may be a delay while you gather and sort the required information, but try to get everything out within 3-5 business days.

If you do respond and send additional information, be sure to note that correspondence in your records and store copies of everything. While you may be quick to reply, the IRS could take up to 30 days to get back to you … Be patient.

So what’s really going to happen if you keep shredding letters from the IRS instead of cooperating with their requests?

  • They may end up calculating your tax return for you and determining how much you owe and what you’ll get in return.
  • A tax revenue officer might pay you a visit to question your financial situation and understand if and when you’ll be able to pay them.
  • You can face criminal charge for tax evasion, which can lead to arrest or jail time if left unresolved.
  • Your wages could be garnished and money will be deducted from your paycheck before you get it just to pay off debt.
  • The IRS also has the power to seize your assets in order to repay the tax bill.

You’re better safe than sorry, so follow these tips and avoid any trouble with the IRS. As always you can contact IRS Audit Group if you have any questions!

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Rushing Through Your Taxes Increases Risk Of An IRS Audit

We get it, filing taxes is not something everyone loves to spend their time on. However, it is crucial to read and understand what is being asked of you, especially if you’re submitting your taxes electronically on your own time. It’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing just to get it done.


What if you work with a tax preparer? Well, the IRS can still audit you if you; fail to disclose all sources of income you may have, give the tax preparer insufficient information to complete your tax return to the fullest, or giving incomplete tax documents to the preparer. The IRS could care less if this was done accidentally or purposeful, which is why rushing will get you nowhere.


What are some reasons for a tax audit?


You leave out sources of income
This is the easiest way individuals can face a tax audit. This is very common in sole proprietors and independent contractors who also receive a 1099 form instead of a W-2. Many may not fully understand how much of a tax burden a 1099 form can cause. So, when a tax bill arrives that doesn’t look very appealing, it’s common to not disclose that information in order to keep 100% of your income tax free. That isn’t a smart move in this scenario. The IRS has systems that are created to catch these errors when the numbers don’t quite add up.


You use whole or rounded numbers
Rounding your numbers may seem ideal and makes the calculations a whole lot easier and less time consuming, but it also raises a red flag in the IRS system. Why? Seriously, what are the odds of having an even number on your net earnings, or deductions? Slim to none. While it usually never gets this far, you can possibly face criminal and civil charges providing inaccurate information. So it’s best to do the math right to avoid any consequences.


You file many deductions
Tax deductions are a good thing for many. It keeps you from paying taxes on certain expenses. However, deductions such as “home office deduction” raises a red flag due it being commonly misused by individuals. How will the IRS know if the deductions are legitimate? Well, they usually have a general idea due to your income level and other quantitative data they have gathered from similar filers. So, do not fall into the trap of thinking you can outsmart the IRS 100% of the time. It doesn’t happen that way for everyone.


How likely is that you’re going to get audited?
Lucky for you, while there’s still a chance of an audit, the chances are slim to none. Actually, 99% of the common persons’ taxes glides through the IRS system without being audited. As for the other 1%, of course they’re being audited. If you’re a millionaire, your chances of being audited are 1 in 10. And if you’re a white house official, your chances are 100%. It may not be every year like Donald Trump’s situation the past 12 years, but it will happen eventually to them.


As mentioned before, even though chances of an audit are slim for the average person, anything is possible. $1 spent on a tax audit, brings in $4. Do the math. Do you think the IRS is going to let everyone continue to slide by without an audit? Not for long because it makes them more money. And let’s face it, all the IRS wants is your tax payers’ dollars.


When filing your tax returns, make sure to take your time. The consequences outweigh the cost of telling the truth.

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Renee M. Schoenberg: Tax-exemption status can be taxing

If you haven’t heard of Renee M. Schoenberg, you will now. Her work is all over the map in multiple countries! Renee is a DLA Piper Senior Counsel who has structured and helped so many nonprofits across 5 continents. In fact, she has helped so many that she can’t even name some of the countries that they’re located in right off the top of her head.


Some of these organizations work in an array of fields which include; fighting global hunger, offering less fortunate D.C. residents affordable legal services, sparking interest in science experiments for Chicago youth, and much more!


What makes these projects impressive isn’t just the projects themselves, but the complexity and new problems that arise during the projects. All of the causes that Schoenberg supports brings about new technical challenges when applying for tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).


This is the reason for Renee becoming interested in doing work for the public good in the first place. She enjoys the challenges that arises by overcoming them, and the emotional response that comes with overcoming these challenges comes second.


Renee has earned many achievements from doing this as well. She was one of the 5 recipients recognized for her “outstanding commitment” to volunteer legal services.


“To me, it’s the pinnacle of recognition, like a lifetime achievement award,” according to Renee.
It’s not a surprise that Schoenberg is someone who is dedicated to perfecting her craft and making a difference. Many wonder how Renee first started getting into the act of her pro bono work. Well, Renee first started helping nonprofits as a spinoff from her trust and estates work. She knew of a family who wanted to underwrite a psychiatrist’s fees so that people of lower income can afford it.


Due to fear that the psychiatrist was trying to turn his organization into a tax-exempt organization, Renee’s application was rejected by the IRS. However, the second application was approved once she showed how the psychiatrist was charging less than market value price for low-income customers. This sparked her interest even more in learning how to structure many different nonprofit organizations.
Renee went on to learn that the key to success when applying for tax-exemption is “Knowing what the hot button issues are going to be and diffusing them in the application.” She gives credit to thorough research in order to accomplish this.


Anne Geraghty Helms, who is DLA Piper’s U.S. Pro Bono Programs director and counsel, refers to Schoenberg as the nonprofit guru of the office. She consistently supervises and mentors young attorneys interested in her field, while helping the firms thousands of attorneys located in over 30 countries.


It’s clear that Renee is serving a good cause in the world. No one has ever heard of Renee “declining” someone who may be in dire need of support. The fact of the matter is that they’re not too many Renee Schoenberg’s out here, that’s for sure.

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Small Business Owners Who Cheat The Tax System Can Face Serious Charges

There’s no question that small business owners are good for the economy and our country as a whole. They create jobs and provide helpful services and products for consumers. However, some small businesses may not have the resources or staff available to handle their finances and accounting procedures in the company, which makes the actual owners themselves man the books, and do as they please with earned capital.


Some may be tempted to falsify earnings since they’re handling all of the calculations. This causes many business owners to not satisfy tax obligations, whether it’s accidental or purposeful, that they’re required to follow.


Last August, Thomas G. Klocker was fined $500,000 and sentenced to 6 months in federal prison due to tax evasion. The IRS investigation that followed showed that he used business money for expensive vacations and other personal expenses not related to the company.


In Thomas Klockers’ case, his actions weren’t due to lack of knowledge, it was done purposefully. According to the judge who was over the case, his actions were “very calculated and made to cheat the system.” According to prosecutors, Klocker committed tax evasion by lying to his tax preparers by telling them his family vacations were business trips and reporting fake losses.


Klocker purposely misused company money for his own comfort and lied about the use. His tax attorney tried to argue that he was a man of the community and did lots of charitable work, which he did. However, that didn’t stop him from being sentenced to 6 months in federal prison, along with a $500,000 fine.


No one wants to be Thomas Klocker in this case. Especially when you have to face a highly experienced and aggressive prosecutor from the federal government. He also paid more than $1.2 million dollars in restitution before being sentenced. With that being said, it’s best to understand the tax obligations that all businesses must obey and follow. The lavish lifestyle and additional income is not worth facing months or years in federal prison, along with a hefty fine and restitution that has to be paid.

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Tax Controversies: Limited Rights

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) loves to give the impression that taxpayers have many rights to IRS actions. This stands as true. However, they fail to mention how limited these rights are. In other words, they’re less than desirable. The tax system works against taxpayers. It’s as simple as that.


The IRS has been granted a massive amount of authority to assess and collect taxes, even without a judge or jury having to be involved. Many people tend to turn to the individual who prepared their tax return when battling a tax controversy or an audit. This method is fine, because it does solve majority of tax disputes.


However, tax controversy procedural rules, and correctly advising taxpayers of their limited rights to court hearings are all things you should want your representative to know. For this reason, going back to your; tax preparer, certified public accountant, or enrolled agent isn’t a good idea. If your rights aren’t correctly exercised, the IRS has the right to collect on taxes without a true fight.


Once the audit is done, the IRS will deliver a Notice of Deficiency if the IRS believes the taxpayer still owes them money. Often times, accountants and clients still believe they can work with the auditor on various issues. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Notice of Deficiency acts as the final decision made by the IRS and cannot be taken back in most cases. If, for whatever reason, the Notice is rescinded, then it has to follow the procedures set forth in Revenue Procedure 98-54.


The Notice of Deficiency is considered legally assessed after 90 days and the IRS will certainly begin collecting on it, if the taxpayer doesn’t properly contest the Notice of Deficiency that is.


The only two options at this point will be to either; dispute the matter in tax court, or pay the tax for now, and file a claim for a refund in federal court later. Of course, tax court is the most appropriate for taxpayers. They even offer an extremely simplified process for small cases. However, the catch is that small cases are not able to be appealed.


Cases that do not make it to the Tax Court must be brought to Federal District Court or the U.S Court of Federal Claims, which is very expensive. Where does that leave the taxpayer? That leaves them having no choice but to pay since federal court doesn’t make financial sense.


The “Flora Rule”, which is a huge rule that works against taxpayers, states that the taxpayer must pay the tax believed to be owed before a federal court will take on their case. Lawsuits filed against the IRS in federal court every year is only a few hundred, while tax court has tens of thousands.


It’s clear that the system has put up many barriers that prevent the taxpayer from getting a fair trial. Due to this, every notice that you receive from the IRS should be taken seriously and handled with urgency.


If you feel as if you are getting audited after receiving notice from the IRS, it’s crucial to see a professional who has extensive experience in tax controversies immediately. An experienced tax attorney will help you go over all of your available options, and guide you to the most appropriate solution.

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Do You Need A Tax Attorney?

Many businesses and individuals fall victim to IRS penalties due to lack of knowledge. There’s no doubt that the IRS has lots of rules and regulations that may be confusing to some who are new to it. If this is the case for you, you most likely need the services of an experienced tax attorney.

Making an investment in a tax attorney can save yourself and your business from; criminal charges, interest, and IRS penalties that can sneak up on you. Tax attorneys are simply lawyers with extensive knowledge in the very complicated and technical field of taxes.

When is the right time to hire a tax attorney?
1. If you have taxable estate and need to file an estate tax return, you definitely need a tax attorney. You will lose out on lots of money if you don’t have a tax attorney in your corner to help you with complicated estate planning strategies.

2. If you’re starting a business, especially an LLC or corporation, you will find a tax attorney useful for legal counsel. This will also help you decide on which business structure will make the most sense for you, from a financial standpoint, in the beginning stages.

3. When conducting business internationally, you are entering into different territories where the laws and regulations are different than that of the USA. With that being said, having an attorney handy will help you with creating appropriate contracts, and other legal matters related to business.

4. When bringing a case to the IRS. Many cases brought to the IRS usually falls on death ears. An attorney will make the process easier and give you a fighting chance.

5. When there’s a criminal investigation against you brought by the IRS, this shouldn’t even be up for discussion. There’s a 100% chance a tax attorney will be needed.

6. If you commit tax fraud (which we don’t encourage), a tax attorney can help with protection on privilege.

7. When you want independent review of your case in front of the US Tax Court, an attorney is needed 100% of the time.

What does a good tax attorney look like?
At the minimum, tax attorneys have a Juris Doctor degree and should be admitted to the state bar. However, you want a tax attorney with in depth training in tax law. There are some that may even have a master of laws degree in taxation. Simply put, the more education and expertise your attorney has in taxes, the better. Choosing a good tax attorney can save you a prodigious amount of money, while hiring a basic lawyer can cost you money.

When handling business in general, you need a tax attorney. This is especially true if you have something to lose, which most of us do. This can be personal finances, business revenues, or your freedom (if you’re fighting a fraud case that could lead to jail time). Either way, make sure you understand when it’s time to hire a tax attorney, and how to pick a good one.

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7 Critical Errors That Can Get Your Small Business Audited

There’s no doubt that a small business owner has an overwhelming number of responsibilities that are all calling for your attention at once. However, being pressed for time isn’t a good thing because you tend to ignore the little things that can cause more stress in your life. Yes, we’re referring to an audit. While an audit isn’t something “little”, the mistakes that can bring about an audit are minor. The thought of an audit makes small business owners cringe inside. Although, it isn’t guaranteed that you can stop an audit from ever happening, there are some steps that you can take as a small business owner to stop it from happening in the meantime.

An audit typically involves the IRS going through your income and expenses to make sure that the amounts reported are actually accurate. During an audit, the IRS are mainly looking for; exaggerated deductions, and unreported or under-reported income. You are obligated to provide all documentation as requested by the IRS.
In order to avoid the unnecessary hassle of an audit, here are 7 red flags that should be avoided at all costs to reduce the risk of your small business being audited.

1. Having a net loss profit for 3 out of 5 years
Your business must be able to have a profit for at least 3 years out of a 5-year period. If not, the IRS will become really interested in why you’re not returning a profit but manage to stay in business.

2. Late filing and late payments
Not meeting deadlines is against your obligation and will create unwanted attention on your business, along with additional money (penalties) that will need to be paid. Always try to pay on time or at least inform the IRS that a payment will be late.

3. Shareholders who are also employees getting paid big salaries
All employees should be given reasonable salaries based on their; skills, type of industry, and experience. Paying excessive salaries simply because they’re shareholders is a surefire way to the IRS wondering what else you may be up to.

4. Prodigious Deductions for entertainment, food, etc.
The best way to prove that your deductions are accurate consists of keeping all receipts. If receipts and extensive documentation isn’t available, that automatically makes you look guilty in the IRS eyes. Especially since this is a very common method individuals used to get out of paying taxes.

5. Transferring income to tax exempt organizations such as nonprofits
This is a form of tax evasion in its finest form. Giving away money to charities isn’t an issue. However, it becomes an issue when it’s solely for the purpose of getting out of paying taxes on it. The IRS will be more than happy to send an audit your way and see if your “charitable” donations check out.

6. 100% Vehicle Business Use
Again, the IRS wasn’t born yesterday. Deducting money for business vehicle use is one of the oldest tricks in the book. If the vehicle isn’t designated for complete business use, it’s good to keep logs of mileage and the purpose of each trip.

7. Majority Cash Businesses
This is where places like car washes, barbershops, and bars have to be really careful. No matter what precautions you take, you’re always going to be under the magnifying glass of the IRS due to the easiness of hiding and underreporting income.

Small business owners are already up to their necks with busy work. However, it is important to document everything you do and keep receipts. You can even potentially create a system that only important files for compliance are uploaded to.
The last thing you need is the IRS knocking at your door for an audit. If you do receive a notice, do not ignore it like some businesses do. It’s in your best interest to contact a tax lawyer. Although these steps do not guarantee the IRS will audit you, it doesn’t hurt to try your best to prevent the hassle.

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How Far Back Can You Be Audited By The IRS?

According to CBS News, filing your tax returns could raise the question of how long you should keep them, just in case the IRS decides to audit. If you come across this issue, it is important to be aware of the three types of statute of limitations. This is found under the Internal Revenue Code, provided by Section 6501.

The first is a three-year statute of limitation on tax audits. Filing a tax return on extension has the downside of also extending the time your return is subject to an audit. For example, filing a tax return for 2011 on April 15, 2012 would give the IRS exactly three years to audit it. However, if you request an extension and file on Oct. 15, 2012, the IRS will still receive exactly three years after that date to audit your return.

Section 6501 also states a second statute of limitations. Overestimating your cost basis or holding securities for a long period of time could bring forth underreported income. This could result from taxpayers neglecting a gross income that surpasses 25 percent of what was originally stated. In this case the three-year limit is doubled to six years.

Assessing a tax return has no time limit if a return is false or fraudulent according to the third statute of limitations. This will also occur if no tax return is filed at all.

Having a good understanding of these three bills as well as an effective tax attorney can prevent future questions or frustrations with filing tax returns.

Tax problems? Call us today for a free consultation. We are a team of Lawyers, CPA’s and Enrolled agents who Specialized Exclusively in Tax Audit Representation with over 15 years of experience. We are located in Beverly Hills, California. Our services are nationwide. We work with all IRS offices throughout the nation. Because the IRS is a Federal Agency, we can request your case to be transferred to a local IRS office (Los Angeles, California).

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What Is A Tax Audit And Why Is It Done?

A tax audit is when the IRS decides to examine your tax return a little more closely and verify that your income and deductions are accurate. Typically, your tax return is chosen for audit when something you have entered on your return is out of the ordinary.

There are three main types of IRS audits:

  • A Mail Audit simplest type of IRS examination and does not require you to meet with an auditor in person.
  • An Office Audit is an in-person audit conducted at a local IRS office which are more in-depth than mail audits and usually include questioning by an audit officer about information on your return.
  • Finally, a Field Audit in which case an IRS agent will conduct the audit at your home or place of business.

The IRS might select you to be audited if:

  • There are mistakes or math errors on your tax files.
  • You fail to include a Form 1099 or additional income.
  • You claim too many charitable donations.
  • You Report too many loses on a Schedule C.
  • You claim too many business expenses.
  • You claim a home office deduction.
  • You repeatedly use neat and rounded numbers.

If the IRS imposes an audit on your tax returns, contact a tax attorney for IRS audit help.

Tax problems? Call us today for a free consultation. We are a team of Lawyers, CPA’s and Enrolled agents who Specialized Exclusively in Tax Audit Representation with over 15 years of experience. We are located in Beverly Hills, California. Our services are nationwide. We work with all IRS offices throughout the nation. Because the IRS is a Federal Agency, we can request your case to be transferred to a local IRS office (Los Angeles, California).

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IRS Audit Group

Tax attorney in Beverly Hills, California

468 N Camden Dr #200,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA

Call: +1 888-300-6670


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