My Top 10 Practice Tips from the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum

I couldn’t end the week without highlighting some other great tidbits from the IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. Believe it or not, it was a really fun conference, and not just for tax nerds like me.

Over the three days, I attended 17 seminars and heard a great keynote address from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. While I can’t boil down all 18 hours into one blog post, I wanted to at least pass along my top ten practice tips from the forum (in no particular order):

  1. Installment sales: You can’t include inventory of personal property when selling property in an installment sale (the sale of property where at least one payment comes after the tax year).
  2. S-Corp Returns: When a S-Corp’s total receipts and total assets at the end of the year are less than $250,000, the business does not need to file a balance sheet (Schedule L).
  3. Penalty Abatement: Reasonable cause is the crux of all penalty abatement requests, so make an affirmative showing of all events alleged as reasonable cause (death or illness are usually good ones).
  4. Birth of an LLC: Four key factors in the birth of a LLC – a) articles of organization, b) operating agreement, c) state fees, and d) correctly titling assets.
  5. Active Participation in Real Estate Rental: If you have a rental property, make sure to perform tasks like approving the tenant and level of rental income, deciding on repairs above $50, and signing the lease (rather than the management company) in order to get the active participation deduction for any losses on the property.
  6. Deductibility of Business Expenses: When a conflict arises between § 162 of the Internal Revenue Code (allowing a deduction for all ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred in a trade or business), and §262 (disallowing deductions that are inherently personal expenses), §262 usually wins.
  7. The “but for” test for Business Expenses: A good way to test the deductibility of an expense is asking if you would not incur the expense but for your job.
  8. Limit on Direct Deposits: The IRS is only allowing three direct deposits into one bank account. All refunds after that will be mailed. (Trying to cut down on fraud.)
  9. Resident Aliens: If preparing a resident alien’s return, you have to report his or her worldwide income. Non-resident aliens have to report U.S. income.
  10. Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT): you may be able to reduce your total AMT hit by not itemizing your deductions, even if they are more than your standard deduction.