IRS documentation

Please share the format you utilize to record mystery-shop activity from start-to IRS.

Do you record the initial date to include location and time?
The income?
The expenses incurred?
The mileage, round-trip?
The reimbursement?

My format could use a new year's resolution! Please share your successes. Thanks

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I have a spreadsheet I use. Each shop is on one line:

The columns:

Brief description of shop i.e., McDonalds, 67th ave, or Sprouts, Prescott
Bonus/travel amount
"useful" reimbursement -- the value to me of something I will be reimbursed for. I might get $7 for a burger, but it's only worth $2 to me to replace a meal at home
Reimbursed amount
Total owed to me by the MSC, which is Fee plus Bonus plus Reimbursed amount
Miles driven

after I am paid, I copy the information to another set of columns on the same line, adding columns for:

Date paid
method (check, paypal, direct deposit)
time to get paid (which is computed by subtracting Date paid from Shop date)

Each column is totaled.

At tax time, I use the totals for Reimbursement and Miles driven to compute my deductions. My income is the total of "Total owed to me by the MSC" from the second set of columns (which should equal the amount they paid).

Reason: The income and deductions are taken or claimed in the year the money changed hands. So what you paid out and your mileage are deducted in 2014 but you only claim the income you got in 2014, which may include some that were unpaid at the end of 2013 -- shops where you already deducted the related expenses. Any income earned but not received in 2014 will roll into 2015 and be reported there. But you will have already deducted the expenses.

Why don't you claim the income and expenses in the year you did the shop? Because the tax law says you don't have to declare income until you receive it -- and you may not know if you're getting paid for some shops until three months after you did them. You still get to deduct your expenses, even if you never get paid. your receipt dates and mileage log needs to match the year of your tax return. So deducting miles you drove in November and meal receipts from December from the following year's tax return will cause problems if you are audited. (Unless you're an accrual-basis taxpayer, and if you are, you don't need tax advice from the forum)

FYI I have been a tax preparer for nearly 20 years. And I strongly urge you to discuss your tax strategies with your own tax professional. The above information is about record-keeping and what the tax law allows; how you fill out your tax return should be determined based on your own tax situation.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
Sandra Sue Wrote:
> Have you ever found a spreadsheet that will print
> out on 8-1/2 x 11 paper properly?

If it's on Excel, this is something you can manipulate and customize yourself.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
Sandra Sue, what kind of problems are you having?

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
Sorry, I didn't see the answers until now. Someone sends me an attachment by Excel. I print it out. Let's say it is names, addresses and phone numbers for a club I'm in. The first page will be names, the second addresses and the third phone numbers, then it starts with the next batch doing the same thing. The unwieldiness of Excel is why I shy away from using it. Every time I've used it for anything, it is useless to me.
On Excel, you can "set print range" to make sure it is not trying to include empty columns. Hopefully your printer has a "scaling" option where you can choose "fit on one page" or "Fit to 1 page wide"

Use the Help feature to look for the words I put in quotes and it should tell you how to do those things.

Time to build a bigger bridge.
Or you view page breaks and drag the page break over to where it would be more appropriate.

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