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Most tax professionals would like their clients to keep better records. And probably aren't too many ways to better demonstrate the importance of records to them than the recent case of the woman who won a victory over the Internal Revenue Service regarding her care for feral cats. But she lost most of the deduction she claimed because of her recordkeeping.

Records are something many consumers think of when tax time approaches, not at the time that expenses were incurred and should have been noted.

And that seems to have been the case with Jan Van Dusen who was successful in having the court validate hear claim that expenses associated caring for the 70 to 80 feral cats she kept was a charitable contribution to Fix Our Ferals, an organization that neuters the cats. These organizations typically rely on volunteers to provide foster cat care. The IRS claimed that Van Dusen, an attorney, was a self-employed provider.

However, much of the $12,068 she claimed as a charitable contribution on her 2004 tax return was disallowed. The court allowed individual expenses of under $250. But since Van Dusen didn't have contemporaneous acknowledgment for expenses of more than $250, at least $5,400 in expenses were disallowed. It was not possible to tell from the decision some of the amounts rejected since the court merely identified them by check number.

But what they had in common was that there was no clear indication of what the expenditures for and some purchases clearly combined allowable and non allowable amount or simply had a total for purchases at a single day at home center outlets. The court says it was not possible to determine how some expenses were calculated.

Van Dusen would not have won every deduction she claimed even with good records. But if there had been proof, she  probably would have been able to deduct most.

And when it gets down to it, who wants to win a philosophical victory regarding the ability to contribute a particular service, but not be able to realize the savings? Meticulous recordkeeping is the big difference between winning and really winning.

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