1.) You’re “very” charitable. Be careful not to exaggerate your good deeds. The IRS has pre-calculated a donation level for each income range, so anything that exceeds those amounts could cause the IRS to take a second look at your return. Keep in mind- you are required to keep receipts for any donations exceeding $250 and to fill out form 8283 for any non-cash donations exceeding $500. Non-cash donations are where a lot of people end up exaggerating and get into trouble. So remember, items that you are giving to Goodwill should be valued at the price someone would actually pay for them today- not the amount you purchased them for 10 years ago.
2.) You deduct your home office. The home office deduction is one of the most complicated and abused deductions in the tax code. Starting this year, you can claim $5 per square foot of workspace, up to 300 square feet. The deduction will be capped at $1,500 per year. The IRS’s definition of a home office remains the same. Your home office must be your primary place of business and used exclusively for work. So if you check your emails from the kitchen or work from home a couple times a week, this does not constitute a home office.
3.) You claim bizarre deductions. These can spark suspicion with the IRS. When in doubt, ask a tax professional before claiming these deductions.
4.) You’re a millionaire. Being rich has its benefits, but not during tax time. The more income you report, the higher the likelihood you will get audited. Be sure and keep up-to-date records of all income, donations and other transactions. The better documentation you have and the more organized you are, the less headaches you will have down the road.
5.) You claim the same child someone else does. If your ex files taxes before you do and claims your child as a dependent, the IRS is going to be very suspicious if you claim the same child as a dependent. This often happens when a couple gets divorced and one parent has primary custody, but the other still tries to claim the child as their dependent. Even if you are in the right, the IRS may force you to provide extensive documentation proving this.
6.) You have money abroad. The IRS has made it a mission to retrieve money that is illegally being stashed in overseas accounts. So even if you have money in a perfectly legal account abroad, you better report it. Failing to disclose this can result in penalties, including a fine of up to $100,000 or 50% of the account balance- whichever is greater.
7.) You claim the earned income tax credit. This refundable credit can be as much as $6,000 depending on your income and how many children you have. That’s why the IRS tries to make sure that this credit is only given to those who truly deserve it. If you claim this credit, make sure and have documentation including the Social Security numbers of all of your children and proof that they live with you (i.e. – letters from their schools or doctors that were sent to your address).
8.) You deduct gas costs. Most employers reimburse you for driving-related costs like gas and mileage. So if you are deducting hundreds or thousands of dollars of automobile costs as a business expense that is going to raise suspicion from the IRS. If you own a business, you can only deduct business-related costs. The gas you purchase for personal trips cannot be combined with that.
9.) Your “business” is really just a hobby. The general rule of thumb is that if the venture has not earned a profit in three out of the last five years, it’s usually not a legitimate business.
10.) You fail to report income. For those who earn money from a variety of different sources, it can be easy to forget an account. Some clients forget about small brokerage accounts they have and since the IRS receives information from brokerage firms directly as well, there is a good chance you will be contacted if your records do not match up with what the IRS receives. If you worked side jobs and earned more than $600 at any one of them in a year, those employers should send you a Form 1099 so you can report that income on your taxes as well.
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If you are in a financial crisis and are considering filing bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.