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Brussels Sprouts V. Reasonable Compensation

By Paul S. Hamann

Trying to get your S Corp clients to determine their reasonable compensation is a lot like trying to get a child to eat Brussels sprouts.  You can try to convince them that Brussels sprouts are good for you, while that pile of Brussels sprouts sits there just getting ever colder and even less appetizing.  But if you really want them eaten, you must put your foot down and require that the little green nemesis be eaten.

There is a long list of reasons why an S Corp owner should determine their reasonable compensation, but the only method that consistently works time and time again is to put your foot down and tell your S Corp clients it’s for their own good and require them to do it.  Tom Ochsenschlager, former head of tax for the American Institute of CPAs, says pay and payroll tax issues are a frequent source of friction with clients: “Sometimes you have to take them to the woodshed and say, ‘You need to report more income as pay for personal services.” – Wall Street Journal

Top 10 reasons why a Shareholder-Employee of an S Corp should determine their reasonable compensation figure annually:
10 – The IRS cares and they are watching
9 – Penalties and interest can more than double the amount of tax originally owed
8 – Preparer Penalties.  Should you have known…
7 – The DIF system is getting a tune-up
6 – S Corp audits on the rise (up 176% from ‘04 to ‘07) and climbing
5 – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
4 – Your Social Security account will thank you
3 – Because looking down at your shoes for answers during an examination sucks
2 – It is easy and affordable using RCReports
1 – Because determining your reasonable compensation is preferable to eating Brussels sprouts

Preparer Penalties & Reasonable Compensation
Because the majority of S Corp owners do not understand Reasonable Compensation, it places the burden of educating them on their Tax Advisor. The IRS requires tax preparers to be proactive in asking for the right information necessary to prepare tax returns, even if it means the preparer will need to spend more time with the client during the preparation process. Asking the appropriate questions will keep the preparer out of the penalty box.  AICPA Tax Preparers Beware


Apology to Brussels Sprout Fans
Our apologies to those of you who like Brussels sprouts, as well as those of you who like to research and document your Reasonable Compensation figure.

Brussels sprouts were originally introduced to the Americas when French settlers brought them to Louisiana.  Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, a chemical believed to have potent anticancer properties.  The majority of Brussels sprouts are grown in northern California and Washington State.

Median wages for some of the hard-working folks who bring us Brussels sprouts in San Mateo County, California:
Farm Supervisor
– Occupation #3866 Median pay – $31.15/hour
Farm Tractor Operator– Occupation #3911 Median pay – $10.80/hour
Crop Picker – Occupation #3923 Median pay – $11.95/hour

For First Time Readers:
Welcome to the RCReports Monthly Newsletter.  We promise to keep it brief and to the point.  If you want to know more about a topic, click on the link.  We will always interject a bit of humor or a little something out of the ordinary.  Thank you for your interest in RCReports – Reasonable Compensation Simplified™

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