May 19, 2020

Six Red Flags That May Get You Audited This Year

business tips
taxes
financial planning
Bill Losey
Bizclik Editor
3 min
Six Red Flags That May Get You Audited This Year

Written by Bill Losey

Our tax returns have been filed. We just made it in by the deadline. So now we get to sit back and relax and hopefully revel in the refund we received this year, right?

 
Wrong.
 
Millions of taxpayers worry about being audited each year and their fears may not be unfounded – according to Internal Revenue Service data, 1.6 million taxpayers were audited in 2011. The agency reviewed millions of returns sent in by taxpayers making less than $200,000, and 12 percent of millionaires had their returns scrutinized.
 
No one likes extra stress courtesy of the IRS. Self-employed individuals seem to be magnets for audits – in fact, IRS data indicates that people who work for themselves and earn from $100,000-$200,000 yearly are five times more likely to get a second look from the agency than the typical employee.
 
Here are some red flags that might get you extra IRS scrutiny. Keep them in mind as you take care of your finances throughout the year and hopefully you can sit pretty when you file next April.

1. A Schedule C that hints at some odd bookkeeping. Schedule Cs get a close look annually as the IRS seeks to remedy the tax gap (the difference between federal taxes owed and federal taxes paid). As Schedule Cs are often filled out by solopreneurs and small business owners themselves, the chances increase for claiming substantial deductions that may be hard to substantiate.

2. Taxable income of $1 million or more. Millionaires work with accountants for a reason – generally speaking, returns prepared by tax professionals raise far fewer red flags than DIY ones. If you will make around $1 million this year, look back at the first paragraph of this article and consider whether or not it might be wise to defer some potentially taxable income into 2013.

3. Bad math. Calculators are readily available and they can be as crucial as software when it comes to filing your federal return. The IRS does spot mediocre mathematics in returns. It has even recalculated taxes to save people money in years when special tax credits were available, such as the Making Work Pay credit. However, it also finds unreported and underreported taxable income through the same scrutiny. In fact, the IRS found 4.2 million math errors last year on tax returns for 2010.

4. Huge deductions. Is your money-losing small business venture truthfully just a hobby? Did you really donate $4,000 worth of office supplies to a charity, and do you have the receipts to back that up? The IRS routinely checks returns for deductions that seem outlandish.

5. Living large. Does the IRS peruse social media? Yes it does, just as many people do. The IRS has done good detective work for years; its investigators know to check out DMV and employment records to get a better picture of an errant taxpayer. Today, photos and posts on Facebook and MySpace and Twitter can telegraph potentially valuable nuggets of information, particularly about young taxpayers who have come into wealth that their returns don’t seem to show.

6. If you’re reading this, you’re paying more attention than many others. That claim really isn’t so grandiose – a staggering number of Americans pay scant attention to their federal taxes. According to the 2012 Taxes and Savings Survey from Capital One Bank, 11% of American taxpayers choose to file at the last minute. For that matter, about 5% of Americans (that’s 7 million people) don’t file federal returns at all – and in some cases, it isn’t just because they don’t earn enough taxable income.

About the Author: Bill Losey, CFP® specializes in secure retirements for women and couples over age 50.  He is President of Bill Losey Retirement Solutions, LLC, an independent fee-based registered investment advisory firm.  Bill is the author of Retire in a Weekend! The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Making Work Optional and he also publishes Retirement Intelligence®, a free weekly award-winning newsletter.  Learn more at www.MyRetirementSuccess.com and www.BillLosey.com.

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Jun 8, 2021

Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda

Tax
Compliance
financeleaders
Deloitte
Kate Birch
4 min
As businesses accelerate their transformation journeys, tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value. Deloitte reveals six tax trends

New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.

According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.

And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.

Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.

Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax

Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.

According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”

Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models

Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.

Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected

in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.

"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."

Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities

Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.

At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”

Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting

Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.

Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact 

Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements

Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.

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