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John Alan Cohan, Contributing Columnist

Opinion
Jan 22, 2016
For most people, their encounter with the IRS ends at the audit phase: Taxpayers will often agree to pay whatever the IRS says they owe. In situations where the auditor claims your ranch or farming activity is a hobby, not a business, this can have long-lasting and adverse consequences because deductions against outside income would be disallowed.



Opinion
Nov 6, 2015
A resolution has been introduced in the U.S. House to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for violation of the public trust, failing to comply with congressionally-issued subpoenas, and misleading the public over the IRS’ practices of targeting conservative groups in audits.


Opinion
Aug 21, 2015
“Ag-gag” is the term used to describe anti-whistleblower laws that apply within the agriculture industry. About half a dozen states have passed laws to criminalize surreptitious filming of alleged abuses of animals on farms and ranches.


Opinion
Jun 26, 2015
Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO and now presidential candidate, filed 17 state income tax returns last year. Many Americans file multiple state income tax returns in states where they do not live or work, but where they own a business or have income-producing activities.


Opinion
Mar 6, 2015
Data needs to start somewhere. In the cattle business, it starts with the calving book. The calendar probably will have some notes on it for those once-yearly events. For instance, bull turnout, weaning, cattle sales, branding and calf workings are all examples of annual events.
Opinion
Mar 6, 2015
Data needs to start somewhere. In the cattle business, it starts with the calving book. The calendar probably will have some notes on it for those once-yearly events. For instance, bull turnout, weaning, cattle sales, branding and calf workings are all examples of annual events.
Opinion
Nov 21, 2014
Top aides to the president have made the IRS hostile turf to honest taxpayers. The IRS has targeted individuals and organizations. IRS bureaucracy has demanded agents to lead no-change audits, to make greater demands for documents, and to disfavor settlements.
Opinion
Sep 12, 2014
Advertising and promotional expenses are usually deductible along with other ordinary and necessary expenses in horse and livestock activities operated as a business. Traditional print ads in magazines can be expensive, and must be repeated in order to be effective.
Opinion
Jul 11, 2014
In an important Tax Court case, J. Zane Smith of Earlville, NY, challenged the IRS’s determination that his cow and dairy activities were a hobby. The lengthy opinion also involved other issues, including his dog breeding activity and a cutting horse activity.
Opinion
Apr 11, 2014
Last fall a freak early snowstorm killed thousands of livestock and horses in South Dakota. Ranchers suffered a tremendous monetary loss of prized livestock and horses. More recently in Kentucky, eight horses were killed in a fire, four of which were yearlings slated for the Keeneland September sale.
Opinion
Jan 17, 2014
In recent years the IRS has ruled that a written business plan is important evidence which tends to prove that you are operating in a businesslike manner. The Tax Court has said that in hobby loss cases you should have “some type of plan” for the venture.
Opinion
Nov 8, 2013
They just broke 2 pounds a day of average daily gain on grass and are heading to the feedlot at 940 pounds. The center had 102 yearling heifers last spring. After selecting 25 replacement heifers, 77 were spayed and sent to grass. Of the 25 replacement heifers, 19 were diagnosed as pregnant.
News
Sep 6, 2013
The IRS Manual has a section in the Audit Technique Guide entitled “IRC Section 183: Farm Hobby Losses With Cattle Operations and Horse Activities.” The guide is intended for to alert IRS auditors to situations pertaining to the horse and cattle industries.
Opinion
May 10, 2013
For many people in the horse or livestock business, the operations have a history of losses, but the expectation is that future operations will be profitable. The IRS will want to see evidence that the taxpayer has taken steps to correct or abandon unprofitable strategies, and to demonstrates steps taken to improve operations.
Opinion
Mar 8, 2013
Some cases involve a combination of activities, such as Smith v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2007-368. This involved a cow and dairy farm, a cutting horse operation, and dog breeding. The court held that the cow and dairy farm was engaged in forprofit activities under the IRS hobby loss rules, but not the other activities.
Opinion
Jan 11, 2013
Ever since the inception of income tax, all areas of farming have enjoyed generous tax benefits. Livestock owners are permitted to take depreciation deductions on their farm to offset gross income, as well as to deduct reasonable costs of operating a livestock breeding or activity from other income.
Opinion
Nov 9, 2012
Ever since the inception of income tax, all areas of farming have enjoyed generous tax benefits. Livestock owners are permitted to take depreciation deductions on their farm to offset gross income, as well as to deduct reasonable costs of operating a livestock breeding or activity from other income.
Opinion
Sep 7, 2012
Section 183 of the IRS Code pertains to activities “not engaged in for profit.” This provision is used to disallow deductions for all farming-ranching activities as well as other ventures ranging from multi-level marketing to air charters. How this provision is applied and interpreted is something that the IRS commissioner can and does influence.