EA - Business Tax Deductions You Should Be Leveraging

10 Business Tax Deductions You Should Be Leveraging

Tax Day is still a few months away, but you shouldn’t wait until it’s time to file your taxes before thinking about the deductions that can be used for your business. Are you leveraging the business expenses correctly to take advantage of the available write-offs? One of the benefits of having a small business is that you can deduct certain expenses that are necessary for your business efforts. It can be hard to keep up with all these transactions, which is why you might consider leveraging the services of an outsourced accountant for assistance.

How Tax Deductions Work

A tax deduction, also commonly known as a business write-off, is particularly useful for small business owners and anyone self-employed. Whether you have a small side-gig at home or you are working full-time on a start-up, you can manage your tax burden by deducting expenses that are spent on business costs. Even if you are a W-2 worker and earn income from an employer, you can still write off any expenses related to business efforts outside of your employment.

This process lowers the income on paper, showing a reduced taxable income when it is time to file your taxes. As a simple example, if you collect $100,000 in a given year through the business, but you spent $20,000 on business expenses, then your taxable income for the year would be $80,000.

The IRS has a detailed tax code, which includes allowances for small business owners and self-employed workers to write-off business costs. If you are spending money that is required for your business, then it can likely be listed as a write-off. The best way to ensure that you are following the rules is by hiring an experienced tax accountant for tax preparation and filing. For example, an outsourced accountant will help you in determining the expenses that qualify as tax deductions. The goal is to maximize the write-offs as much as possible, while staying within the guidelines set by the IRS.

IRS Guidelines for Business Write-Offs

The IRS allows deductions for anything that can be categorized as a “reasonable business expense.” A few specific guidelines are in place to help you determine if your expense can qualify as a deduction:

  • The cost is related to your business directly
  • The expense is necessary and ordinary
  • The amount spent is reasonable

Examples of Tax Deductions for Your Business

Here are some of the most common tax deductions that are used by small business owners:

  1. Health Insurance Premium: Most people who are self-employed need to pay for private health insurance. Since you don’t have an employer to provide health care support, you can write off a portion of your insurance premiums.
  2. Vehicle Mileage: Track your miles throughout the year because a per-mile deduction can be used on your taxes. These driving miles need to be related to your business. For example, if you drive to the bank or you are driving to meet a client, then those miles can be included on your log for the year. Your commute to and from work does not count as deductible mileage.
  3. Home Office: Do you work from home? A portion of your rent/mortgage, utilities, and more can be written off as tax deductions. It is important that you have a dedicated space for business activities. Additionally, it needs to be the primary place where your business is operated. Then, this square footage can be calculated based on the overall size of your home and the associated monthly expenses.
  4. Professional Fees: Hiring an accountant or lawyer for assistance with your business can be a tax write-off. Any legal or professional fees that are paid for business purposes fall into this category. For example, if you hire an accountant to assist with tax preparation, then the cost of the accounting services can be included in your list of expenses for the year.
  5. Retirement Savings: Self-employment tax deductions can be used if you contribute money into a retirement savings account. The numbers vary from year to year, so the best solution is to work with your accountant and a financial advisor to determine the amount that can be deducted. Your financial team can also provide guidance regarding the most effective way to invest this money. Options include 401(k)s and IRAs.
  6. Startup Costs: Getting a business off the ground can be expensive. Not only are you putting money into product development, hiring employees, and office supplies, but the marketing and initial costs can add up over time. Keep track of all of these expenses so you can use them as tax write-offs.
  7. Bad Debt: Do you have uncollected money from customers? When accounts receivable turns into bad business debt, then it can be used as a tax deduction. In this situation, you need to have documentation proving that you took reasonable steps to collect on the invoice.
  8. Travel and Food: When you are taking a business-related trip, keep track of the expenses incurred for airline tickets, car rental, taxis, hotel fees, and more. You can’t write off personal vacations that aren’t related to business. But there are times when you can travel for business to leverage the write-offs, while still having a bit of time for entertainment or personal activities.
  9. Charitable Donations: Donating to a charity of your choice is a great way to feel good about giving back to the community. Additionally, these donations can be used as tax deductions as well. The rules change depending on the type of donation, the recipient, and the amount that is donated, so talk to your accountant for more information.
  10. Continuing Education: Most business owners need to continue learning to stay relevant in the industry. If you pay for work-related education, then those costs can be used as tax deductions. Examples include tuition, lab fees, books, supplies, transportation to the classes, and any other expenses related to your participation in the classes. For these expenses to qualify, the classes need to “maintain or improve skills needed in your present work.”

Tips to Maximize Your Tax Write-Offs

As you can see, there are many ways you can increase your tax deductions each year. But it takes work and organization to ensure that you are taking the write-offs your business is entitled to. Taking as many deductions as possible can help to lower your taxable income, which in turn reduces the amount that you will be paying in taxes each year.

Are you leveraging the write-offs for your business? Here are a few tips to follow so that you get the best results possible with your tax deductions:

  • Good Bookkeeping System: It is essential that you are keeping track of all of your business costs. In order to utilize the deductions, you need to know where the money is going. Use a bookkeeping and accounting system to record every transaction that moves through your bank accounts and credit cards. You need to have specific details about the amount of money that was spent, how it was spent, as well as documentation to back up the spending. The IRS won’t accept estimates, and you might need to verify the write-offs if you are audited in the future.
  • Check the Requirements: Talk to your accountant about specific requirements that need to be met for the deductions. For example, you should keep copies of the receipts when purchases are made. You can file these paper copies in a folder for each year. Or, consider a digital system with scans or photographs of the receipts for easy reference. Other requirements include logs or tracking information, such as a mileage log that records the odometer, purpose of the driving, and the number of miles traveled. This documentation does not need to be filed with your tax return, but you need to have it available in case there are questions about your filings in the future.
  • Simplify and Outsource: You can spend your time filing receipts and recording the transactions, but these busy-work activities are a waste of time when you can hire an outsourced accounting team to help. As a busy business owner, you shouldn’t be spending your limited hours on tasks that can be handed off to the experts. Instead, focus on your strengths and skills, and let the pros handle the number crunching and reporting for you. Outsourced bookkeeping and accounting allow you to focus on your business without getting behind on the never-ending paperwork and admin tasks.

When it is time to file your tax return, your accountant will help you claim the write-offs in the correct Schedule C section of your 1040. As this information is compiled, make sure you have open communication with your accountant regarding the rules around the deductions you are planning to take. An experienced tax accountant can provide valuable advice to help you avoid problems with the IRS in the future.

Easier Accounting is Here to Help

Are you ready to maximize your tax deductions for your upcoming tax filing? Our team at Easier Accounting is here to assist. Not only can we help with your current tax prep, but we can also create a system to ensure that you aren’t overlooking important deductions in the future. Call to learn more about available accounting services: (888) 620-0770.

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