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Organization Pays Off
A few years back, the IRS - under congressional scrutiny for overzealousness - trimmed its collection activities. Now the pendulum has swung back. Small businesses are notoriously sloppy record keepers, say accountants, making them easy marks for the IRS.

Neil Mammen (pictured at right), founder of Tentmaker Systems, had a brush with the IRS that served as a wake-up call. In 2006 the agency contacted him about $30,000 worth of receipts. They assured him that this was not an audit ... yet. They just wanted clarification.

As a typical disorganized entrepreneur, Mammen found that he was woefully underprepared. Some of the receipts in question he found stuffed in a shoebox (no kidding). For others, he had to call vendors and ask for invoices. "It was scary, a nightmare, and it ate up a lot of my time," says Mammen.

Mammen has since found record-keeping religion. He uses a device called Neat Receipts to scan receipts directly into his PC. There he organizes them according to standard categories such as meals and office supplies. Then he backs the whole thing up in triplicate. After getting more organized, Mammen says, he was able to increase his deductions by about 20% this past year.

NEXT: Timing Tricks

Last updated February 25 2008: 11:17 AM ET

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