After years of low examination rates, the IRS announced it will increase audits of small businesses by 50 %. This news comes during a time when complex tax law changes and economic stimulus programs, in response to COVID-19, have made businesses’ books even more complicated than usual.
The Illinois CPA Society cautions this could lead to audits and enforcement actions against many different businesses. These businesses range from long-held family-owned operations to the many online businesses launched as the pandemic drags on.
With the IRS planning to hire more specialized auditors to begin strengthening its enforcement efforts, ICPAS offers the following tips to safeguard your business interests and help avoid an audit:
Keep Clear Records
Accurately and honestly reporting all income, deductions, credits, expenses, and other figures can help keep an audit at bay. Make sure you have adequate documentation to support the figures reported on your business’ information return. This will make your individual tax return less likely to be have errors or be audited.
Mind your deductions
Unusual itemized deductions raise red flags for auditors, especially now that most taxpayers only claim the standard deduction. If your small business is driving you to seek unique deductions or report business losses, enlist the help of a CPA to guide you. Reporting losses for three years or more could increase your risk of an examination into whether you’re actually in business.
Make your estimated tax payments
If you anticipate owing more than $500 in taxes for your business entity throughout the year, you should be making quarterly estimated tax payments. Failing to make these payments raises your risk of an audit and/or penalties.
Today’s bookkeeping software utilizes tools to keep your records accurate and secure. This helps your CPA electronically prepare and file your tax returns—the best method for preventing the filing of erroneous returns that might trigger an audit.
Read up on the rules
Since many small businesses are formed as partnerships, it’s important to determine if yours is subject to the Centralized Partnership Audit Regime, which dramatically changed IRS partnership audit procedures.