||2008 Tax Year
A farmer, like other taxpayers, must keep records to prepare an accurate income tax return and determine the correct amount
of tax. This chapter explains the benefits of keeping records, what kinds of records you must keep, and how long you must
keep them for federal tax purposes.
Tax records are not the only type of records you need to keep for your farming business. You should also keep records that
measure your farm's financial performance. This publication only discusses tax records.
The Farm Financial Standards Council has produced a publication that provides a detailed explanation of the recommendations
of the Council for financial reporting and analysis. For information on recordkeeping, you may download Financial Guidelines
for Agricultural Producers at www.ffsc.org. For more information, contact Countryside Marketing, Inc. in the following manner.
Send a fax to 262-253-6903.
Farm Financial Standards Council
N78 W14573 Appleton Ave #287
Menomonee Falls, WI 53051.
Topics - This chapter discusses:
Useful Items - You may want to see:
(Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide
Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
See chapter 16 for information about getting publications.
Benefits of Recordkeeping
Everyone in business, including farmers, must keep appropriate records. Recordkeeping will help you do the following.
Monitor the progress of your farming business.
You need records to monitor the progress of your farming business. Records can show whether your business is improving,
which items are selling, or what changes you need to make. Records can increase the likelihood of business success.
Prepare your financial statements.
You need records to prepare accurate financial statements. These include income (profit and loss) statements and balance
sheets. These statements can help you in dealing with your bank or creditors and help you to manage your farm business.
Identify source of receipts.
You will receive money or property from many sources. Your records can identify the source of your receipts. You need
this information to separate farm from nonfarm receipts and taxable from nontaxable income.
Keep track of deductible expenses.
You may forget expenses when you prepare your tax return unless you record them when they occur.
Prepare your tax returns.
You need records to prepare your tax return. For example, your records must support the income, expenses, and credits
you report. Generally, these are the same records you use to monitor your farming business and prepare your financial statements.
Support items reported on tax returns.
You must keep your business records available at all times for inspection by the IRS. If the IRS examines any of your
tax returns, you may be asked to explain the items reported. A complete set of records will speed up the examination.
Except in a few cases, the law does not require any specific kind of records. You can choose any recordkeeping system suited
to your farming business that clearly shows, for example, your income and expenses.
You should set up your recordkeeping system using an accounting method that clearly shows your income for your tax year. See
chapter 2. If you are in more than one business, you should keep a complete and separate set of records for each business.
A corporation should keep minutes of board of directors' meetings.
Your recordkeeping system should include a summary of your business transactions. This summary is ordinarily made in accounting
journals and ledgers. For example, they must show your gross income, as well as your deductions and credits. In addition,
you must keep supporting documents. Purchases, sales, payroll, and other transactions you have in your business generate supporting
documents such as invoices and receipts. These documents contain the information you need to record in your journals and ledgers.
It is important to keep these documents because they support the entries in your journals and ledgers and on your tax return.
Keep them in an orderly fashion and in a safe place. For instance, organize them by year and type of income or expense.
Travel, transportation, entertainment, and gift expenses.
Specific recordkeeping rules apply to these expenses. For more information, see Publication 463.
There are specific employment tax records you must keep. For a list, see Publication 51 (Circular A).
See How To Claim a Credit or Refund
in chapter 14 for the specific records you must keep to verify your claim for credit or refund of excise taxes on certain
Assets are the property, such as machinery and equipment, you own and use in your business. You must keep records
to verify certain information about your business assets. You need records to figure your annual depreciation deduction and
the gain or (loss) when you sell the assets. Your records should show all the following.
When and how you acquired the asset.
Cost of any improvements.
Section 179 deduction taken.
Deductions taken for depreciation.
Deductions taken for casualty losses, such as losses resulting from fires or storms.
How you used the asset.
When and how you disposed of the asset.
Expenses of sale.
The following are examples of records that may show this information.
Financial account statements as proof of payment.
If you do not have a canceled check, you may be able to prove payment with certain financial account statements prepared
by financial institutions. These include account statements prepared for the financial institution by a third party. These
account statements must be legible. The following table lists acceptable account statements.
|IF payment is by...
||THEN the statement must show the...
Proof of payment of an amount, by itself, does not establish you are entitled to a tax deduction. You should also keep other
documents, such as credit card sales slips and invoices, to show that you also incurred the cost.
Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing future tax returns and making computations if you file
an amended return. Keep copies of your information returns such as Form 1099, Schedule K-1 and Form W-2.
You must keep your records as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code.
Generally, this means you must keep records that support an item of income or deduction on a return until the period of limitations
for that return runs out. Generally, you must keep your records for at least 3 years from when your tax return was due or
filed or within 2 years of the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. However, certain records must be kept for a longer
period of time, as discussed below.
If you have employees, you must keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date the tax becomes
due or is paid, whichever is later.
Keep records relating to property until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the
property in a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure any depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction
and to figure your basis for computing gain or (loss) when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.
Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your basis in that property is the same as the basis
of the property you gave up, increased by any money you paid. You must keep the records on the old property, as well as on
the new property, until the period of limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new property in a taxable
disposition. See Like-Kind Exchanges
in chapter 8.
Records for nontax purposes.
When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes, do not discard them until you check to see if you have to
keep them longer for other purposes. For example, your insurance company or creditors may require you to keep them longer
than the IRS does.
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