Roger S. Campbell, et ux. v. Commissioner, TC Memo 2011-42
There were a couple of issues in this case around substatntiation, but the main thing was a hobby loss question on Amway activities. I remember going to some Amway presentations and it is really shocking to me that people can actually lose money on something that sounds like such a good deal.
Petitioners did not conduct the Amway activity in a businesslike manner. Although they maintained a separate bank account for the activity and maintained records for certain aspects of it, petitioners never used these records as an analytical tool for improving profitability. Mrs. Campbell testified that she did not know whether the Amway activity was profitable in any given year until she completed petitioners' tax return for that year which, for 2 of the taxable years in issue, did not occur until almost 2 years later. It is a fair inference that petitioners' recordkeeping was directed more towards substantiating deductions on a tax return than assessing the profitability of the Amway activity.
Considering all the facts and circumstances, including especially the confusing state of petitioners' Amway records, we conclude that a substantial portion of the costs of goods sold respondent disallowed for 1998 and 1999 represents Amway purchases that petitioners withdrew from inventory for personal use or use in their other businesses. This commingling of the Amway merchandise, resulting in substantial inaccuracies in reported costs of good sold, is further evidence that petitioners' Amway activity was not conducted in a businesslike fashion. It also resulted in petitioners' claiming business deductions for personal expenditures.
Although petitioners have prior entrepreneurial experience and both operated other businesses concurrently, they had no experience with operating a direct marketing distributorship before they were recruited as Amway distributors. Petitioners obtained advice only from their upline distributors and other interested Amway individuals, persons who had a direct financial interest in the maximization of petitioners' sales volume, without regard to petitioners' profitability.
In view of the foregoing, petitioners have failed to prove that they carried on their Amway activity with the requisite objective of making a profit. Consequently, their deductions arising from the Amway activity are limited by section 183.
In the presentations it was always about you recruiting people who recruit people and so on. It always seemed that somebody somewhere had to be selling an awful lot of soap for the thing to work.