The effects of the global pandemic and economic crisis will be felt for years to come. But this year, finalizing year-end accounting for businesses has special challenges in 2020. Special considerations, losses, business closing, and accounting for government relief programs will likely amplify the usual stressors of tax season. Before getting started on the particular aspects for businesses this year, it helps for taxpayers to cover the basics. So, below we offer a list of basic reminders on tax preparations for the year of COVID.
Confirm Records of All Business Expenses
Maybe you legitimately paid for a new business computer but cannot find the paper trail. You can usually replace missing receipts with a bit of research. Reviewing credit card statements or order histories from the store can provide proof of purchase. Also avoid claiming untraceable income to family members, lavish gifts, and other expenses outsized for the level of income generated.
Only Claim Actual Business Expenses
A personal laptop you bought your kid for remote learning does not count as an actual business expense. Tempting as it sounds, you cannot justify your business improved by no longer having them borrow your computer for schoolwork. The IRS will figure out that’s not an actual business expense. Make several little ‘they’ll never notice’ claims and you could expose yourself to costly penalties. Other areas that raise red flags include claiming unusually high utility costs for a home office, or unrelated professional development.
Forget whatever you told yourself in school about working better under pressure by waiting until ‘later’ to do your work. When you wait until the 11th hour, you risk not having enough time to pull all your documentation together accurately. Mad scrambles fueled by adrenaline can also leave money on the table. You increase your chances of maximizing your deductions when you take time to consider all possible deductions thoughtfully.
Going through the entire period unaware of tax liabilities spells disaster for business owners. Being blissfully unaware does not exempt you from repercussions and avoiding proper accounting will only make things worse. Aside from the shock of owed taxes when filing, you can also accrue serious penalties for filing late or underpaid quarterly estimates.
Stay on Top of IRS Correspondence
As we’ve mentioned in other blogs, if you receive a letter from the IRS, do not ignore it! We cannot stress this enough: avoiding whatever is in the correspondence, won’t make it go away. If they request additional information, provide it in a timely fashion. If they question your filing and you do nothing, they assume they’re correct and move forward with billing. Expect them to start charging interest and late fees.
By starting at a better baseline, you can better prepare for the specifics of the 2020 tax preparations. The good news: you have enough time to find lost receipts, respond to IRS letters, and get yourself organized. You also have time to ask questions about allowable expenses and the best way to attack your unique tax situations. That’s where we can help. Contact our office at 724-216-5180 or use our online form.