Recently I was privileged to speak at the Atlanta Professional Business Network (APBN) event celebrating National Small Business Week and the topic was how entrepreneurs can legitimize their businesses and minimize the chances of an IRS audit. We went over quite a bit of material that evening, but here are the major points:
According to the IRS, whether or not an activity is presumed to be operated for profit requires an analysis of the facts and circumstances of each case. Deciding whether a taxpayer operates an activity with an actual and honest profit motive typically involves applying nine non-exclusive factors contained in Treas. Reg. § 1.183-2(b). Those factors are:
1. the manner in which the taxpayer carried on the activity,
2. the expertise of the taxpayer or his or her advisers,
3. the time and effort expended by the taxpayer in carrying on the activity,
4. the expectation that the assets used in the activity may appreciate in value,
5. the success of the taxpayer in carrying on other similar or dissimilar activities,
6. the taxpayer's history of income or loss with respect to the activity,
7. the amount of occasional profits, if any, which are earned,
8. the financial status of the taxpayer, and
9. elements of personal pleasure or recreation.
No one factor controls, other factors may be considered, and the mere fact that the number of factors indicating the lack of a profit objective exceeds the number indicating the presence of a profit objective (or vice versa) is not conclusive. A profit objective in an earlier year does not automatically provide a taxpayer a blank check with regard to losses incurred in later years.
The bottom line for small business owners is to keep good records, operate in a businesslike manner and have a profit motive as your goal.
The Tech Accountant