February, 2007

Due Dates this month

Now that you’ve already prepared all your 1099s (right?), you need to transmit the “red” copy to the Social Security Administration by the end of February. The month between sending the 1099s to the recipients and sending a copy to the government is intended to allow for corrections to be made. Penalties for not filing range from $30-$100 for EACH 1099.

Corporate tax returns are due MARCH 15th.

Personal, Partnership, etc. returns are due April 17th (April 15th is a Sunday, and Monday is a holiday this year-Emancipation Day). Feel free to file before the 15th if you can.

If you need help, please let us know as soon as possible, so we can be sure to get to you before the deadlines.

Two Classes – Tax Update by the Tax Buddha and Schedule C Class

If you missed Andy’s “Preparing your own Schedule C” class for the Small Business Administration in SF, you’ll have another chance on Monday, April 2nd 6-8:30 pm. Soon, we’ll be on the calendar at http://web.sba.gov/calendar/public/index.cfm?grp=13&op=group

Andy will also be giving his “Schedule C” class for the Renaissance Entrepreneur Center in San Francisco the evening of March 26th. More details to follow.

Rumors of avoiding an audit by filing on extension are greatly exaggerated

The IRS selects returns for audit based on three criteria: The “DIF” Score, Randomly, and Document Matching. None of these methods have anything to do with the date you file.

The DIF Score (Discriminate Index Function—now that you know what it stands for, is it any clearer?) is a “secret” statistical analysis of returns based on income and other factors—The IRS has and idea of what they expect you to be reporting based on your income. They won’t reveal their criteria for obvious reasons.

Sometimes “your number is up” and you get audited for no other reason than random selection. It’s not personal. It keeps people honest.

Document matching is where they take the 1099s and W-2s and whatnot, and match them to what you’ve reported. No problem if you report more income than appears on your 1099s, but it is a problem if you report less.

For stock sales, the IRS only gets the “sale” amount, they don’t get the cost—so the IRS is going to presume you bought your stock for $0 unless you report differently, so you need to report, even if you had a loss on sale of stocks. It can take the IRS up to three years to match documents, but they usually get around to it.

We at Tax Buddha recommend you report ALL your income, even if you don’t think you’ll get caught. “Missing 1099s” have a notorious way of appearing after the fact—for example when the person who paid you gets audited. You’re looking out for yourself when you report completely, plus, it’s the law.

If you actually do forget and find a 1099 or some other document after the fact, let us know so we can file an Amended Return for you. It is much better to discover your own mistake and take action to correct the error than to have the IRS discover it. You’re not going to jail if you’ve made an error. Of course if you forget that million dollars of income, the story might be different.

Phone Excise Tax refund

There seems to be some confusion about this.

To claim the refund for a business the “easy” way, you need the bill from April ’06 showing the amount of FET collected. There should be a line near the long distance charges that says “Federal Excise Tax.” You use this to compute the % of FET to total phone bill. Then we apply the % against the payments made to phone companies for the 41 months—so to calculate the credit, you need the April ’06 phone bill, and you need to know how much you spent on telephone in April ’06, September ’06, and the 41 months from March ’03 to July ’06.

Phone companies collected a tax from March ’03-August ’06 that was deemed unconstitutional, and they’re going to refund it on 2006 income tax returns.

Individuals can figure the exact tax, or do a “standard” of $30 for a single person, $40 for a couple, $50 or $60. This tax is refundable.