In order to claim a deduction, the federal tax law requires that you provide evidence for a trade or business expense. This means you must show the purpose of the expense and prove the amount paid.
Substantiating a business deduction is crucial as it allows you to take advantage of valuable tax deductions. Losing out on these deductions is completely avoidable, so let's explore how you can prevent this costly mistake.
What do I need to claim a deduction?
When it comes to deducting expenses paid in connection with operating your business, there are a some things to keep in mind:
You must demonstrate that the expenses deducted were primarily for business purposes rather than personal reasons.
It is essential to maintain records that are sufficient to substantiate all the expenses you claim.
How do I substantiate expenses?
You have two options for providing proof of business expenses:
1. Adequate Records
This involves maintaining an expense management system like Dext. We like the features of Dext so much that we offer it to our clients at a discounted cost. The program streamlines recordkeeping by capturing and storing your receipts while seamlessly integrating with your accounting software.
Alternatively, you can log your purchases in an account book, diary, log, expense statement, trip sheets, or a similar record that is prepared at the same time as the expense. In addition, you must retain the necessary documentary evidence such as receipts or paid bills.
2. Your Own Statements
In certain circumstances where you are unable to produce adequate records due to circumstances beyond your control, such as a fire, flood, earthquake, or other casualty, you have the right to substantiate a deduction through a reasonable reconstruction of your expenses.
But, it's not as simple as that — this method requires you to provide secondary evidence, such as testimony from individuals you paid or evidence from third-party sources. It is important to note that this approach can be more challenging than relying on adequate records.
how long do I need to keep business records?
Federal income tax returns can be audited for up to three years after filing, six years if substantial under-reported income is involved, and the audit period is unlimited in the event of fraud.