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4 things the IRS will examine closely during a gas station audit

When it comes to IRS audits, gas stations owners are often at a disadvantage. Not only is a great deal of their business transacted in cash -- making it more difficult to accurately track -- but with few employees, owners often don't have the resources or time to maintain perfect financial records. Even when records are maintained, they are sometimes disorganized or done so sporadically that they are hard to decipher.

However, regardless of the challenges faced by gas station owners, the IRS will not hesitate to audit them and other small business owners who deal primarily in cash. While these audits often involve several issues -- ranging from payroll taxes to withholding sales and use tax, and everything in between -- the examinations will often focus primarily on the following four issues:

  • Gross receipts and sales: Documents the IRS will typically request/examine include all books, ledgers, journals and work paper the taxpayers (gas station owners) may have used when determining gross receipts, among other documents. For instance, they will also likely ask the taxpayers to provide all bank statements, deposit slips and any canceled checks associated with both their business and personal bank accounts for the 14-month audit period, which runs from the December prior to the audit year through the January following the audit year.
  • Cash deposits: After identifying all of the bank accounts associated with the taxpayers' names, the taxpayers will often be asked to provide an explanation of all cash deposits into these accounts, which means they may be required to provide supporting documentation as to the sources of these funds.
  • Car and truck expenses: Taxpayers should also be ready to provide inspection slips, repair receipts or any other records that may show total mileage driven, especially if they are claiming business mileage. They may need to verify business mileage with log books and other records. Also, if they claimed actual expenses, invoices and canceled checks for these automobile expenses may be necessary.
  • Travel expenses: Taxpayers may need to verify the number of nights away on business, which may include providing receipts or credit card statements for meals and lodging.

Make no mistake, the IRS doesn't care if you don't have an accounting degree. If you make even one mistake in your recordkeeping, you may face the possibility of substantial tax penalties.

So what should you do if you are facing an IRS audit? Learn the answer to this question by reading our next blog. You've worked hard building your business, so you need to do everything possible to help protect it.

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