“KISS” is an acronym for the design principle, Keep It Simple, Stupid! When talking about your officiating taxes, it should be “Keep Expenses Simple.”

The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complex, therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

The acronym was first coined by Kelly Johnson, lead engineer for the Lockheed design team. Johnson handed the team a handful of tools with the challenge that the military jet aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only those tools. Hence, the “stupid” refers to the relationship between the way things break and the sophistication available to fix them.

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Someone should tip off the IRS to the KISS principle.

According to, there were 71,684 pages in the United States Tax Code, six times the length of the Bible. Some allege that the Code is now 82,000.

When dealing with that unwieldy code, I recommend that taxpayers use KISS for everything they do. The goal is to fulfill the requirements of the tax code but do so as simply as possible.

Sometimes, it is almost impossible to keep things as simple as we would prefer, like when we travel outside our home area to officiate. IRS regulations allow the deduction of travel expenses for those trips. You can deduct all of the expenses related to the travel, including your transportation, lodging, meals, telephone charges, uniform cleaning and incidental items on the Schedule C of the 1040 form. But you also have to be able to demonstrate that you incurred those expenses, if asked. Just showing that you paid for plane or train tickets, a hotel room or a rental car is not enough.

The IRS will expect to see the actual tickets, hotel bills or rental car bills with your name on it and the dates involved. If you share those expenses with other officials, make sure you get a copy of those bills and record your share of the expenses on it and the names of the other officials.

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If you incur personal expenses unrelated to your officiating while you are traveling, do not include those expenses as part of your deductible travel expenses. For example, if you travel to a relative’s home, those expenses are not deductible.

You are not necessarily obligated to have receipts for incidental items like taxis, gratuities and tolls, but if you can obtain a receipt, get one.

Whether we like it or not, a long and complicated tax code will probably be with us for the foreseeable future. What are your chances of being asked to justify your expenses in an audit?

According to IRS statistics, individuals had a one in 90 chance or 1.1 percent. The number of audits increased more than 11 percent in recent years. But individuals who are sole proprietors of their own business, which is true of many sports officials, have more than twice the risk or 2.6 percent.

As my high school Latin teacher used to say: “Verbum sapienti satis est” (A word to the wise is sufficient). I remember that quote even though Latin was my worst subject.

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