The I.R.S has special coding that looks at your return and scores the return based on many factors, including but not limited to if the return was self-prepared, expenses are not an average ratio based on others in your geographical area or by business industry type.
The IRS has a computer system called Discriminant Information Function (DIF) that's specifically designed to detect anomalies in tax returns. It scans every tax return the IRS receives. DIF looks for things like duplicate information—maybe two or more people claimed the same dependent—as well as deductions and credits that just don’t make sense.
The computer compares each return to those of other taxpayers who earned approximately the same income. For example, most people who earn $40,000 a year don’t give $30,000 of that money to charity and claim a deduction for it, so DIF is pretty much guaranteed to throw a flag if you do. DIF's flag prompts review by human agents.
Many of the current tax software use an array of questions to determine your ability to deduct or apply credits you may be intitled to. If one of these questions are answered wrong or by mistake, then your return could be incorrect when you complete it. Current law needs to be applied to your individual circumstances. These questions are broad and sometimes confusing.
Sole proprietors and freelancers are entitled to a host of tax deductions that most other taxpayers don’t get to share, such as home office deductions, mileage deductions, and deductions for meals, travel, and entertainment. These expenses are tallied up on Schedule C and are deducted from your earnings to determine your taxable income from your business.
DIF is on the lookout for deductions that are above the norm for various professions. It might be expected that you would spend 15% or so of your income on travel each year if you're an art dealer, because that's about what other art dealers spend. You can probably expect the IRS to take a closer look at your return if you claim 30%.
Have you noticed those occupational codes that appear on your tax return? The IRS uses those to make sure that your travel expenditures are in line with others who report those same codes. You'll most likely get a second look from the IRS if you've claimed a lot more than the average for your profession.
Likewise, if you use your car for business purposes and you want to deduct your expenses or mileage, the IRS doesn’t want to hear that 100% of your travel was solely for business purposes, especially if you have no other vehicle available for personal use. Presumably, you drove to do personal errands at some point.
Mike McVay is a licensed Tax Professional with over 25 years experience preparing individual, sole-proprietor, partnership, LLC, S-Corp and C-Corp tax returns. McVay charges fees that will fit your budget and has many options when it comes to tax appointments. Remote tax appointment available in 2021.
McVay says that many new clients have come to seek his professional tax preparation that used self-prepare tax software in the past. In some cases McVay has found additional money due to the taxpayer when reviewing past years returns. Many are not paying much more than the past years tax software cost to get their taxes done professionally.
Mike McVay, Tax Accountant * 850-722-5696 * Mike@MikeMcVay.com