Contact Us
Firm Overview
Why Legend Is Different
Client Types
Professional Biographies
Frequently & Rarely Asked Questions
Risk Spectrum
Investment Strategies
Second Opinion
Global Investment Pulse
Event Calendar
Press Center
Legend News
Clients Only
Career Opportunities
Directions
Newsletter Sign-up
Site Search
Site Map
Home
Tell A Friend About This Website
 
 
 
Informational Booklets   
Phone: (412) 635-9210
  (888) 236-5960
Connect With Legend:
Subscribe to me on YouTube

10 Reasons For The IRS To Flag Your Return

What sets off alarm bells at the IRS? Due to limited resources, the IRS only audits around 1% of all federal individual tax returns, while the other 99% skate through unexamined. Nevertheless, it pays to keep in mind these 10 “red flags” that could increase the chance you’ll be tapped for an audit.

1. High income. The audit rate for 2011 tax returns, which was about 1.11% overall, jumped to 3.93% for taxpayers with income of $200,000 or more. That’s almost one out of every 25 returns. The IRS tends to chase the “big money,” and while that’s no reason to earn less, you should realize that higher income exposes you to a greater audit risk.

2. Unreported income. The IRS computers match up the income listed on W-2 and 1099 forms with the income reported on individual returns. You’re likely to draw IRS scrutiny if you don’t report all of your taxable income or if you underreport the total, even if an omission is inadvertent. Check your tax forms to ensure the information is accurate.

3. Large charitable gifts. Besides providing personal satisfaction, deductions for charitable gifts can offset highly taxed income on your return. But the IRS may become suspicious if the amount you deduct is disproportionate to your income. In particular, make sure that deductions for gifts of property are legitimate and include an independent appraisal when required.

4. Home office deductions. If you qualify, you can write off your direct costs of using part of your home as an office, plus a percentage of everyday living expenses such as property taxes, mortgage interest, utilities, phone bills, insurance, etc. But the basic rule is that you must use the office “regularly and exclusively” as your principal place of business. Simply doing work at home when your main office is elsewhere won’t cut it.

5. Rental real estate losses. Generally, “passive activity” rules prevent investors from deducting losses on rental real estate. But a special exception allows a loss deduction of up to $25,000 for “active participants,” subject to a phase-out between $100,000 and $150,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI). Another exception applies to qualified real estate professionals. The IRS may zero in on taxpayers claiming losses under either exception.

6. Travel and entertainment expenses. This is often a prime audit target. IRS agents particularly look for self-employed individuals and other business owners who claim unusually large write-offs for travel and entertainment expenses and meals. Note that the tax law includes strict substantiation rules that must be followed in order to deduct any of these expenses.

7. Business use of cars. Another area ripe for abuse by taxpayers is the use of a vehicle for business purposes. The annual amount you can claim via depreciation deductions for the vehicle, based on percentage of business use, is limited by so-called “luxury car” rules. IRS agents have been trained to ferret out taxpayer records that don’t measure up. Another danger signal is a claim for 100% business use of a vehicle, especially if another vehicle isn’t available for personal use.

8. Hobby losses. As a general rule, you can deduct expenses for a hobby only up to the amount of the income it produces. You normally can’t claim a loss for the activity, unless your involvement rises to a level of a bona fide business. Usually, an activity is presumed not to be a hobby if you show a profit in any three out of the past five years, but the IRS can rebut this presumption.

9. Foreign bank accounts. The IRS has started clamping down on taxpayers with offshore accounts in “tax havens” in which banks may not disclose account information. Failure to report foreign income can trigger steep penalties and interest. If you have foreign bank accounts, make sure you properly report the income when you file your return.

10. Cash businesses. Finally, if you operate a small business in which you’re generally paid in cash—for example, if you own a car wash, restaurant or tavern, or a hair or nail salon—the IRS is more likely to examine your return. Past history indicates that cash-heavy taxpayers may underreport their income or, in some cases, not report any income at all. Accordingly, the IRS remains on high alert.

These red flags certainly don’t mean you should shy away from claiming the tax breaks you rightly deserve. Just be prepared to defend your turf if the IRS ever comes calling.


This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Legend Financial Advisors, Inc. and is not intended as legal or investment advice.


INDEX
  • How To Spell Estate Tax Relief
  • One Last Shot At A Tax Exemption
  • 5 Ways That Can Help You Pay For Higher Education
  • Seven Smart Money Moves You Should Make In 2017
  • Sticking With The Fundamentals
  • 17 Midyear Tax Moves You Still Can Make In '17
  • A Quick Overview Of Preferred Securities
  • Weigh Five 401(k) Options When Leaving A Job
  • Locate A Tax Shelter Near A School
  • How To Improve Chances For College Financial Aid
  • What Would You Do For A Bigger Salary Or More Benefits?
  • 7 Late Moves To Cut Taxes This Year
  • Seven Good Reasons To Create And Fund A Trust
  • A Good Time To Remember How Long-Term Investors Must Think
  • Remember The Lesson Of Rebalancing
  • Section 529 Plans Keep Getting Better And Better
  • Three Ways You Can Play Good Stock Market Defense
  • When Can You Reconvert To A Roth?
  • 8 Compelling Tax Reasons For Roth IRA Conversion
  • Steer Clear Of These 7 Traps For IRA Owners
  • Make Sure That You Comply With All The RMD Rules
  • How A Financial Advisor Can Help
  • Rising Housing Prices May Be Sign That New Bubble Is Forming
  • After Five Great Years For Stocks, What's Next?
  • What Are Latest Trends In Prenups?
  • The Three Biggest Financial Mistakes That You Can Make
  • 4 Of The Main Reasons To Keep Your Bypass Trust
  • Seven Steps After A Spouse's Sudden Death
  • 7 Expired Tax Breaks That Were Given A Longer Life
  • Will Record Profit Margins Upend The Bull Market?
  • 14 Top Year-End Tax Moves For Individuals In 2014
  • Be An Elephant And Downplay Talk Of Bulls And Bears
  • Five Financial Vows For Newlyweds
  • Will Record Profit Margins Cause Stock Prices To Plunge?
  • Ins And Outs Of Nondeductible IRAs
  • Identifying Investment Risk And Coping With It
  • How Best To Leave IRAs To Your Grandchildren
  • 4 Tips For Assembling A College Savings Plan
  • Don't Be Shocked If Your Tax Deductions Are Slashed
  • 2013 Was A Poor Year For Diversification
  • Risk Rose Slightly In January, But Has Decreased In February
  • Expenses And Behavior Are Key To Investment Success
  • Five-Year Returns Show Why Diversification Is Key
  • Where Can You Invest For Safety?
  • Perspective On Stock Market Trends
  • Find Extra Benefits In DI Insurance
  • Crash Course On Paying For College
  • A Realistic Look At A Hot Topic: Dividend Stocks
  • Don't Ignore These Tips About TIPS
  • Investors Flee Stocks At Precisely The Wrong Time
  • Take A Closer Look At Your RMDs
  • 10 Reasons For The IRS To Flag Your Return
  • Economic Growth Set To Slow Down Around The Globe
  • Where Will You Live After You Retire?
  • Muni Bonds May Show Gains As Tax Increases Approach
  • Two Investment Principles In Tandem
  • Is It Finally Time To Refinance?
  • Do You Understand Investments?
  • The Best Way To Gauge If The Market Is Overvalued
  • Should You Take Social Security Early Or Late?
  • Identity Theft In The New Year
  • Preserving Assets For Generations To Come
  • Managed Futures Mutual Fund Update
  • Give Away Gifts With No Gift Tax
  • Saving For Retirement
  • 21 Shocking But True Statistics About Retirement
  • Why You Shouldn't Do Your Own Estate Planning
  • Take The Time To Give Lifetime Gifts
  • What Does The Downgrade Of U.S. Debt Really Mean?
  • Should You Give Gift Cards? They May Not Be Used
  • What Do You Want Your Legacy To Be?
  • Breaking Up Doesn't Have To Be Hard
  • Do You Have An Administrative Trustee?
  • Will The New Financial Reform Law Benefit You?
  • Roth Conversion Can Hurt College Aid
  • Do Second-To-Die Policies Merit A Second Chance?
  • It's NOT The Economy, Stupid!
  • Biggest Estate Tax Problem? Income Tax
  • The Ins And Outs Of Lifetime Gifting
  • What To Do If Your College Savings Plan Is Battered
  • Identifying And Fixing The Global Economy's Woes
  • Uncle Sam Changes Financial Aid Rules
  • Retirees Eligible For Many Tax Cuts In Recovery Act
  • Funding College Savings Plans For A Grandchild
  • An Update On College Savings Plans
  • Five Smart IRA Ideas For Pre-Retirees
  • Does Your 529 College Savings Plan Match Up?
  • A Reverse Mortgage For Mom And Dad
  • Tax Pros And Cons Of Municipal Bonds
  • How The Bankruptcy Law Affects Wealthy Individuals
  • Limits of Family Limited Partnerships
  • They Don't Call 'Em Trusts For Nothing
  • The Roth 401(k) - Is It Right For You?
  • Planning Ahead A Couple Of Generations
  • Use FLPs To Transfer Assets And Cut Estate Taxes
  • What You Need To Know About The AMT In 2008
  • Coping With Estate Tax Uncertainties
  • Thinking of Remarrying? Think Prenup
  • Many Americans Fail To Take Care Of Financial Basics
  • Beware Of Social Security Identity Theft
  • Regulatory Guidelines Update
  • Energy Systems Scale and Timeline
  • Free Credit Reports Available Online
  • Don't Forget About Roth 401(k)
  • The Oil Patch Profit Squeeze
  • Understanding the Importance of a Fiduciary Standard
  • Timber As A Liquid Investment
  • Emerging Market Food Consumption Growth Equals Rising Prices
  • Ethanol: Salvation or Panacea?
  • Timber Facts
  • Bank Loan Funds - A Primer
  • The Dangers of Medical Identity Fraud
  • A Primer On Managed Futures
  • REITS: A Very Good Portfolio Diversifier, But Should You Invest In Them?
  • Does Investing Internationally Still Diversify Your Portfolio?
  • Another Way To View The Current Valuation Of REIT Sector
  • Understanding Risk-Preparing For The Unseen
  • Why Not Alternative Fixed Income Investments?
  • How Dangerous Is A Dollar Crash?
  • What Is Shorting Expense?
  • How Volatile Can The Stock Market Be?
  • GMO 7-Year Asset Class Return Forecast Is Bleak
  • Too Many ''Phish'' In The Sea
  • The Case For Industrial Metals
  • Ways To Improve The Score
  • Know The Score
  • Total Credit Market Debt (All Sectors) As % Of U.S. GDP
  • To Reinvest Or Not To Reinvest
  • Just How Expensive Is The Market?
  • Beware of Brokerage Firms' Misconduct
  • Identity Theft : Correct Those Credit Reporting Errors
  • Risk-Controlled Investing
  • What Do Rising Interest Rates Mean For Money Market Yields?
  • Q & A With Robert Arnott
  • Identity Theft : Applying For Credit? Better Check Your Credit Report First
  • Identity Theft: Everyday Prevention
  • Identity Theft: Help Is On Its Way
  • Identity Theft: Tips to Protect Yourself
  • Identity Theft: A Note About Social Security Numbers
  • Identity Theft: What Documents Should You Shred Or Store?
  • Identity Theft : Don't Fall For That E-Mail!
  • Identity Theft : One More Reason To Protect Your Credit
  • Section 529 Plans Are Popular But Not The Only Way To Go
  • Exit Gracefully: How Business Owners Should Plan For A Comfortable Retirement
  • The Importance Of Commodities In A Portfolio
  • A Tale Of Two Hedges
  • What Is Risk?
  • How To Find A Great Financial Advisor?
  • Is It Time To Find A New Financial Advisor?
  • 4 Steps To A More Secure Investment Portfolio For Your Retirement
  • Traditional Investing May Decrease Your Retirement Lifestyle
  • Year-End Tax Planning Can Help Generate High Return On Investment
  • Is Your 401(k) Plan A Failure?
  • Understanding Deflation
  • Tax Issues To Consider When Buying A Long-Term-Care Policy
  • Evaluating The Quality Of A Company's Earnings
  • Investing In Times Of Uncertainty And Risk: The Importance Of Diversification
  • 2001 Tax Relief Act Changes Education Planning
  • Yesterday's Great Companies
  • A Retirement Plan Primer After The 2001 Tax Act
  • Beware Of Common Home Repair Scams
  • Custodial Accounts: One Way To Make Gifts To Children
  • Estate Taxes To Be Reduced Then Repealed In 2010
  • Faulty IRA Conversions Can Lead To Tax Penalties
  • Many Individuals Pay Private Mortgage Insurance Beyond When It Is Necessary
  • Rethinking Estate Planning
  • Retirement Plan Contribution Limit Changes
  • Shopping For A Bank Account That Pays The Highest Possible Rate Of Interest
  • Early Retirement Incentives For Tenured Faculty Waives Fica Tax Payment
  • Do It Yourself Tax Preparers Watch Out: Tax Answers From IRS Centers Oftentimes Are Incorrect And/Or Insufficient
  • Your Medical File Report May Need A Check-Up
  • Five Tips For Preventing Thefts From Your Checking Account
  • Home Office Deductions: Hoops To Jump Through
  • Income Tax Effect On Single And Married Taxpayers
  • Income Tax Planning For Investments
  • Property Tax Challenges Should Not Be Overlooked
  • The IRS Will Follow Your Wealth To The Ends Of The Earth
  • When Do You Need Life Insurance
  • REITs: A Great Diversification Investment
  • Bank Loan Funds: A Great Fixed Income Investment As Interest Rates Rise
  • Estate Tax Will Be Reduced Gradually, Then Repealed in 2010



  • ©2017 Legend Financial Advisors, Inc.®. All rights reserved.