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What kind of recordkeeping system do I need?
Unless you own or operate your own business, partnership, or S corporation, recordkeeping does not have to be fancy.

Your recordkeeping system can be as casual as storing receipts in a box until the end of the year, then transferring the records, along with a copy of the tax return you file, to an envelope or file folder for longer storage.

To make it easy on yourself, you might want to separate your records and receipts into categories, and file them in labeled envelopes or folders. It's also helpful to keep each year's records separate and clearly labeled.

If you have your own business, or if you're a partner in a partnership or an S corporation shareholder, you might find it valuable to hire a bookkeeper or accountant.

Do you contribute to charity?

If you donate to a charity, you must have receipts to prove your donation.

Starting in 2007, contributions in cash or by check aren't deductible at all unless substantiated by one of the following:

A bank record that shows the name of the qualified organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. Bank records may include: a canceled check, a bank or credit union statement or a credit card statement.
A receipt (or letter or other written communication) from the qualified organization showing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
Payroll deduction records. The payroll records must include a pay stub, Form W-2 or other document furnished by the employer that shows the date and the amount of the contribution, and a pledge card or other document prepared by or for the qualified organization that shows the name of the organization.
Besides deducting your cash and non-cash charitable donations, you can also deduct your mileage to and from charity work. If you deduct mileage for your charitable efforts, keep detailed records of how you figured your deduction.

Are you employed by someone else?

If you work for someone else and spend your own money on company business, keep good records of your business expense receipts. You will need these records to either get a reimbursement from your employer or to prove business-related deductions that you take on your taxes.

Do you have income from tips?

If you make tips from your job, the hand of the IRS reaches here too, and if you are ever audited, the IRS will be interested in records of how much you made in tips.

Do you own property?

If you own property, be particularly careful to keep receipts or some other proof of all your expenses, especially for repairs and improvements.

Do you hire domestic workers?

It's important to keep accurate information about who works for you, including nannies and housekeepers, when and where they worked for you, and how much you paid them for the work.

Do you have a business?

If you have a business, you must keep very careful records of all your business expenses, including vehicle mileage, entertainment expenses, and travel expenses.

If you have a business, just because you have cash in your pocket doesn't mean you're in the black on the books. Keeping up-to-date records of all transactions and costs will not only help you tax wise, it will tell you if your business is actually profitable.

Do you travel for your business?

If you travel for business, keep good receipts and logs of all your travel expenses, including those for meals and entertainment. You will need this information whether you work for yourself or for someone else.

- See more at: http://www.theashtongroupinc.com/business-strategies.php?item=45&catid=8&cat=Recordkeeping%20For%20Your%20Taxes:%20Frequently%20Asked%20Questions#sthash.85AQhEHA.dpuf

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Local Transportation Costs
The cost of local business transportation includes rail fare and bus fare, as well as the costs of using and maintaining an automobile used for business purposes. For those whose main place of business is their personal residence, business trips from the home office and back are considered deductible transportation and not non-deductible commuting.

Note: Please see the special section below for the most effective ways of deducting auto expenses.

You generally cannot deduct lodging and meals unless you stay away overnight. Meals may be partially deductible as an entertainment expense as discussed below.


Away From-Home Travel Expenses
You can deduct one-half of the cost of meals (50 percent) and all of the expenses of lodging incurred while traveling away from home. The IRS also allows you to deduct 100 percent of your transportation expenses--as long as business is the primary reason for your trip.

To be deductible, travel expenses must be "ordinary and necessary", although "necessary" is liberally defined as "helpful and appropriate," not "indispensable." Deduction is also denied for that part of any travel expense that is "lavish or extravagant," though this rule does not bar deducting the cost of first class travel or deluxe accommodations or (subject to percentage limitations below) deluxe meals.

What does "away from home" mean?
To deduct the costs of lodging and meals (and incidentals-see below) you must generally stay somewhere overnight. In other words, away from your regular place of business longer than an ordinary day's work and you need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home. Otherwise, your costs are considered local transportation costs and the costs of lodging and meals are not deductible.

Where is your "home" for tax purposes?
The general view is that your "home" for travel expense purposes is your place of business or your post of duty. It is not where your family lives. (Some courts say it's the general area of your residence).

Example: George's family lives in Boston and George works in Washington, DC. George spends the weekends in Boston and the weekdays in Washington, where he stays in a hotel and eats out. For tax purposes, George's "home" is in Washington, not Boston, therefore, he cannot deduct any of the following expenses: cost of traveling back and forth between Washington and Boston, cost of eating out in Washington, cost of staying in a hotel in Washington, or any costs incurred traveling between his hotel in Washington and his job in Washington (the latter are considered non-deductible commuting costs).

There are some rules in the tax law concerning where a taxpayer's "home" is for purposes of deducting travel expenses that are less clear such as when a taxpayer works at a temporary site or works in two different places.

We'll cover these rules briefly in these two examples:

Example #1: Joe, who lives in Connecticut, works eight months out of the year in Connecticut (from which he usually earns about $50,000) and four months out of the year in Florida (from which he usually earns about $15,000). Joe's "tax home" for travel expense purposes is Connecticut. Therefore, the costs of traveling to and from the "lesser" place of employment (Florida), as well as meals and lodging costs incurred while working in Florida, are deductible.

Example #2: Susan works and lives in New York. Occasionally, she must travel to Maryland on temporary assignments, where she spends up to a week at a time. Assuming Susan's employer does not reimburse her for travel expenses, she can deduct the costs of meals and lodging while she's in Maryland, as well as the costs of traveling to and from Maryland. This holds true because her work assignments in Maryland are considered temporary since they will end within a foreseeable time. If an assignment is considered indefinite, that is, expected to last for more than a year, under the tax law, travel, meal, and lodging costs are not deductible.

Here's a list of some deductible away-from-home travel expenses:

Meals (limited to 50 percent) and lodging while traveling or once you get to your away-from-home business destination.
The cost of having your clothes cleaned and pressed away from home.
Costs for telephone, fax or modem usage.
Costs for secretarial services away-from-home.
The costs of transportation between job sites or to and from hotels and terminals.
Airfare, bus fare, rail fare, and charges related to shipping baggage or taking it with you.
The cost of bringing or sending samples or displays, and of renting sample display rooms.
The costs of keeping and operating a car, including garaging costs.
The cost of keeping and operating an airplane, including hangar costs.
Transportation costs between "temporary" job sites and hotels and restaurants.
Incidentals, including computer rentals, stenographers' fees.
Tips related to the above.
However, many away-from-home travel expenses are not deductible or are restricted in some way. These include:

Commuting expenses. The costs of traveling between your home and your job are not deductible.
Travel as a form of education. Trips that are educational in a general way, or improve knowledge of a certain field but are not part of a taxpayer's job, are not deductible.
Costs of looking for a first job. If you are looking for a new job in your current field, you can deduct the travel expenses. Otherwise, you may not deduct them.
Seeking a new location. Travel costs (and other costs) incurred while you are looking for a new place for your business (or for a new business) must be capitalized and cannot be deducted currently.
Luxury water travel: If you travel using an ocean liner, a cruise ship, or some other type of "luxury" water transportation, the amount you can deduct is subject to a per-day limit.
Seeking foreign customers: The costs of traveling abroad to find foreign markets for existing products are not deductible.
Tip: Starting in 2008, travel (and other) costs incurred in unsuccessfully trying to acquire a specific business are currently deductible.

- See more at: http://www.theashtongroupinc.com/business-strategies.php?item=120&catid=8&cat=Travel+and+Entertainment%3A+Maximizing+the+Tax+Benefits#sthash.ywEKdL53.dpuf
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