Attorney-at-Law

YELP DOESN’T HELP

In Uncategorized on 11/04/2020 at 19:21

It’s just another indocumentado and unreported income small-claimer, of the type I’d bypass and let Judge Travis A (“Tag”) Greaves dispatch in ten pages or less, but Yohannes Teka Lakew and Seble Bete, 2020 T. C. Sum. Op. 27, filed 11/4/20, has a novel evidentiary twist.

It’s Yohannes’ idea, to explain why his gross receipts from his driving school shrunk so drastically, while his Sched C showed only $7K gross receipts, no returns or allowances, and a net loss of $4K. The 1099-K from Yohannes’ scheduling and payment contractor showed Yohannes got gross receipts of $29K. 2020 T. C. Sum. Op. 27, at pp. 3-4.

“Petitioners do not dispute that Mr. Lakew received the money reported on the Form 1099-K but contend that the driving school’s gross receipts should be reduced by unreported cash refunds that Mr. Lakew paid to customers.” 2020 T. C. Sum. Op. 27, at p. 4.

Yohannes’ recordkeeping is a wee bit casual. Our old pal Ben Trovato is in on the play.

“Although Mr. Lakew issued cash refunds in connection with his driving school business, petitioners provided us with very little, if anything, in the way of credible evidence upon which to make a rational finding or estimate of the amounts of those refunds. Mr. Lakew could not produce any receipts, bank account statements, or other financial records of any kind relating to the business to support his claimed refunds, even though he remained under a clear obligation to do so. The only record of the refunds that Mr. Lakew introduced into evidence was a single document entitled Istar Driving School: Annual Summary Income Tracking Sheet (tracking sheet). This vague and uncorroborated tracking sheet, together with Mr. Lakew’s testimony, are not, however, ‘sufficient records’. The tracking sheet does not indicate what year it relates to, and petitioners did not testify as to when it was prepared. Mr. Lakew testified that he found the tracking sheet only a few days before trial. None of the figures provided in the tracking sheet can be tied to either petitioners’ return or the Form 1099-K. The tracking sheet cannot be credibly cross-checked against any other document or information with respect to even a single transaction in the [year at issue] relating to Mr. Lakew’s business, including such pertinent information as payor, payee, date, and amount for any of the claimed refunds.” 2020 T. C. Sum. Op. 27, at pp. 6-7.

But Yohannes has that darling of the Internet, Yelp, an online review of everything and anything.

“Mr. Lakew also introduced Yelp reviews, including one from a customer dated December 17, [year at issue], which stated that Mr. Lakew ‘said that he was going to refund the money and we are still waiting for this’. The Yelp reviews offer little support that Mr. Lakew actually issued all of the claimed refunds. We therefore conclude that petitioners failed to satisfy their burden, and we sustain respondent’s redetermination.” 2020 T. C. Sum. Op. 27, at p. 7.

And IRS don’t need no Boss Hoss, because the computer that sent out the CP2000 that Yohannes and Sebele ignored also issued the SNOD, so it was all electronic. Thus, Yohannes and Sebele get the five-and-ten chop.

Yelp doesn’t help.

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