Recordkeeping is critical to securing a deduction. In Gabriel S. Garcia et ux. (T.C. Memo. 2012-139) the taxpayer operated two businesses that provided services to other entities.
The taxpayer paid various workers wages or contract labor expenses. Some of the payments were made by check and some of the payments were in cash. The taxpayer did not maintain complete books and records of the wages or contract labor payments he made during 2007 or 2008. Some, but not all, of the payments were reported to the IRS and to the workers as wages, and some were reported as nonemployee compensation.
Some, but not all, of the workers reported the income received from the taxpayer on their tax returns. Some of the workers provided to the taxpayer incorrect or illegible Social Security numbers. For 2007, the taxpayers reported on their tax return $356,581 as wage and contract labor expenses. The taxpayer was able to substantiate wage and contract labor expenses of only $230,291.
The IRS allowed a deduction $230,291 for 2007. For 2008, the taxpayers reported on their tax return $283,613 as wage and contract labor expenses but could substantiate expenses of only $157,190. The IRS allowed a deduction $157,190 for 2008.
The taxpayers' returns were prepared by his brother, who was not an accountant. The returns claimed erroneous, overstated or unsubstantiated deductions other than the ones for wages or contract labor. While the taxpayer testified he paid the amounts claimed, his testimony was not corroborated by any witnesses and he could not explain how he derived the amounts deducted on his tax returns in the absence of records, and his brother, who prepared the returns, did not testify.
The Court noted the taxpayer did not have any time records or other evidence from which we could estimate the amounts that he paid without substantiating documents. He did not identify any sources for cash payments to workers. The Court noted that it could have made an estimate of the expenses, but noted it could do so only when the taxpayer provides evidence sufficient to establish a rational basis upon which the estimate can be made. Without such evidence, the Court would not make an estimate. It allowed no more than the IRS allowed.
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