Avoid Big Tax Trouble – Use This Tool to Protect Your Business

Rule #8 from my book Tax-Free Wealth is this:

Treat your business just as you would if it were a big public company

People get into big tax trouble with their business because they don’t treat it like a “real” business.

Annual meetings are an important example of this.

A public company holds an annual meeting with its shareholders (owners). During these meetings, many things are discussed, including:

  • Informing the owners of previous and future activities
  • Reviewing and approving financial statements and budgets
  • Declaring dividends
  • Approving vendors

A public company keeps a written record of each meeting – these are the meeting minutes.

The topics of a typical annual meeting directly relate to a tax strategy which makes the meeting minutes an extraordinary tool to protect your tax savings. This is why it is so important to treat your business like a big public company when it comes to annual meetings and minutes.

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How meeting minutes can protect your tax strategy

Meeting minutes are an ideal place to document the activity in your tax strategy, such as:

  • Your salary
  • Your bonus
  • Your distributions (dividends)
  • Loans to/from your company from/to you or your other companies
  • Investments purchased
  • Investments sold
  • Travel expenses
  • Vehicle expenses
  • Use of your home office

Just to name a few!

Who should have meeting minutes?

When you think of meeting minutes as being a tool to protect your tax savings, then every company should have meeting minutes. It doesn’t matter if the company is an LLC, partnership, corporation or even a sole proprietorship.

It’s always a good business practice to have an annual meeting. It’s a great time to review the past year and focus on the upcoming year. This falls right in line with the company approving your salary, bonus and/or distributions. Have a discussion about why the amounts are appropriate and document that in your meeting minutes.

An annual meeting is the ideal time to document activities the company has done and intends to do. For example, if one of those activities is to purchase real estate, the discussion can address if the real estate will be held long-term and rented, or fixed up and sold, or perhaps the company has something else in mind.

Two terms that commonly come up during a tax audit are “intent” and “facts and circumstances.” A tax auditor wants to know what a taxpayer’s intent was and what the facts and circumstances were for a particular transaction. Meeting minutes are one of the most effective ways to document these items.

What if your company is just you? You may be wondering how you conduct your meetings if your company is just you. While you may be the only owner, you may have employees who should participate or you can invite members of your team of advisors to participate.

Tom Wheelwright, CPA

To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any US federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. If you are not the original addressee of this communication, you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

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