I know its not fun but .. Be diligent about saving your tax records

You’re probably getting ready to sort out last year’s financial records and prepare for this year’s recordkeeping. But what should you keep and what can you throw away? Here are some suggestions.

* Keep records that directly support income or expense items on your tax return. For income, this includes W-2s, 1099s, and Form K-1s. Also keep records of any other income you might have received from other sources. It’s also a good idea to save your bank statements and investment statements from brokers.

For expense items, keep documentation that supports any itemized deductions you claim. This includes acknowledgments from charitable organizations and backup for taxes paid, mortgage interest, medical deductions, work expenses, and miscellaneous deductions. Even if you don’t itemize, keep records of expenses for child care, medical insurance if you’re self-employed, and any other expenses that appear on your return.

The IRS can audit you routinely for three years after you file your return. But in cases where income is underreported, they can audit for up to six years. To be safe, keep your tax records for seven years.

Keep certain other records even longer. These include records relating to your house purchase and any improvements you make. Also keep records of investment purchases, dividends reinvested, and any major gifts you make or receive. And finally, keep copies of all your tax returns and W-2s in case you ever need to prove your earnings for social security purposes.

Please call our office if you have questions about specific items.

David Bradsher, CPA

If you have foreign investments, you may have a new filing obligation

If you own foreign investments, you may have an additional federal tax filing requirement this year.

Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets,” is due April 17, 2012, and is filed as part of your individual tax return. You’ll use Form 8938 to disclose interests in certain foreign financial accounts when your ownership exceeds the reporting requirements.

What are the reporting requirements? They vary depending on where you live and your filing status. For example, say you’re married and live in the United States, and you’ll file a joint tax return for 2011. You’ll include Form 8938 with your tax return when the total value of your reportable assets on the last day of 2011 is more than $100,000, or if the value exceeds $150,000 at any time during the year.

Tip: In some cases, you may also need to file Form 8938 for tax year 2010.

Reportable assets include investment accounts you own that are held in foreign financial institutions, interests in foreign entities, and stocks or securities issued by foreign individuals or companies.

You’ve probably noticed the reporting requirements are similar to the “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” (FBAR), a separate return you may already be filing. Be aware the new Form 8938 does not replace the FBAR, which you’ll still need to complete by June 30.

Penalties for failure to file Form 8938 start at $10,000. We urge you to contact us so we can help you evaluate your filing requirements for foreign investments.

David Bradsher, CPA

Great ! IRS plans random small business audits

The IRS plans to conduct random audits of 2,500 returns from 2010 filed by corporations with less than $250,000 in assets. The results will be used to update the IRS formulas for selecting returns for audit.

The IRS is also trying to improve tax compliance among sole proprietors. According to a Treasury report, sole proprietors accounted for 20% of the $345 billion tax gap calculated for 2001.

David Bradsher, CPA

If you own foreign investments, you may have an additional federal tax filing requirement this year. Read more

If you own foreign investments, you may have an additional federal tax filing requirement this year.

Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets,” is due April 17, 2012, and is filed as part of your individual tax return. You’ll use Form 8938 to disclose interests in certain foreign financial accounts when your ownership exceeds the reporting requirements.

What are the reporting requirements? They vary depending on where you live and your filing status. For example, say you’re married and live in the United States, and you’ll file a joint tax return for 2011. You’ll include Form 8938 with your tax return when the total value of your reportable assets on the last day of 2011 is more than $100,000, or if the value exceeds $150,000 at any time during the year.

Tip: In some cases, you may also need to file Form 8938 for tax year 2010.

Reportable assets include investment accounts you own that are held in foreign financial institutions, interests in foreign entities, and stocks or securities issued by foreign individuals or companies.

You’ve probably noticed the reporting requirements are similar to the “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” (FBAR), a separate return you may already be filing. Be aware the new Form 8938 does not replace the FBAR, which you’ll still need to complete by June 30.

Penalties for failure to file Form 8938 start at $10,000. We urge you to contact us so we can help you evaluate your filing requirements for foreign investments.

David Bradsher, CPA