Many of us may have heard a horror story about someone who got audited, which typically costs a lot of time and money. Because of that fear, small business owners are generally understandably hesitant to take deductions because they worry it may subject them to an audit.
However, deductions may help you save a lot of money that you may instead use to grow your business. Let’s talk about some of the most common tax deductions for small businesses that you may want to consider incorporating during your tax planning.
Note: Be sure to check with an accounting professional you trust if you have questions or concerns!
12 tax deductions for small businesses to consider
So, what might you be able to deduct in order to decrease your tax burden? Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider.
1. Home office
The IRS says that if you use part of your home for your business, you might be able to deduct a portion of certain expenses, whether you’re a homeowner or renter. To calculate how much you may be able to deduct, you need to measure your work area (it needs to be a designated spot for an office) and divide it by your home’s square footage. This percentage is the amount of your rent/mortgage, insurance, electricity, internet, housekeeping, and other home-related expenses you may be able to claim.
Remember that this only works if you have an actual home office area. If you work in the living room on your couch, you generally can’t deduct the cost of your whole living room.
This deduction may be kind of complex, which is why small business owners may be wary of it. But, if you use it properly, it has the ability to save you money.
2. Office supplies
As an entrepreneur, you have expenses that are necessary to run your business. To be deductible, these expenses generally need to be (1) ordinary and (2) necessary. The simplest example of a business expense is office supplies! Think about things like paper, pens, business cards, ink, paperclips, and binders. Be sure to hang onto these receipts and keep them organized by month. These expenses may further reduce your taxable income.
Furniture isn’t cheap, but thankfully, you may likely deduct it. Office furniture acquisitions provide a couple of choices. You may deduce 100% of the cost for the year you purchased it, or you may deduct the depreciation. Depreciation is recognized as a portion of the expense over seven years.
4. Business Insurance
Typically, insurance is considered a business expense. This generally includes casualty and theft insurance, professional liability and malpractice insurance, accident and health insurance, and coverage for any business vehicles you use.
You typically cannot deduct life insurance where you’re directly or indirectly the beneficiary.
If you use a vehicle purely for business, it’s generally a deductible. If you use it both professionally and personally, you’ll need to divide your expenses based on mileage. You can find a list of the current and prior year’s standard mileage rates on the IRS website.
6. Travel expenses
In order to deduct traveling as an expense, you generally need to meet two conditions:
- The trip must require you to be away from your regular place of business for longer than an ordinary day’s work.
- You need sleep/rest to meet the demands of your work while you’re away.
If you meet these conditions, then you may be able to deduct things like parking, transportation, meals, and lodging. You can find more information in IRS Publication 463: Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.
7. Marketing and advertising
Generally, if they’re directly related to your business, you may deduct them. This includes social media ads and print or broadcast advertising. Other things on this list are sponsoring a team, donating branded swag, and participating in special events.
All educational expenses—like materials and events—are 100% tax deductible, including magazines, books, and webinars.
9. Legal and accounting fees
Another tax deduction for small businesses is fees for the professionals you hire. Lawyers and accountants may be expensive, but thankfully, if you hire them for your business, you may be able to deduce 100% of that cost.
Inventory is one of the biggest costs for some small businesses. To calculate this, you’ll have to factor in numbers like the cost of the products themselves, freight, storage, and what you pay the people who produce these products.
11. The people you hire
Did you know that your employees’ wages are generally fully deductible? Even their bonuses and commissions. The same may be said for freelancers and independent contractors—just make sure you issue a MISC-1099 form to any contractor making more than $600 in that tax year. (Sole proprietorships and LLC members do not count.)
12. Interest on your loans
If you’ve taken out a small business loan, you probably already know that you’re paying interest on it. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t know that you may count this as a deduction for a small business, as long as you’re using the loan for business expenses, you (as the owner) are liable for it legally, and you’ve taken it out from a traditional lender.
5 expenses you typically can’t deduct
As you now know, there are plenty of tax deductions for small businesses to help reduce your taxable income and save some of your hard-earned money. On the contrary, here are a few things you generally cannot deduct.
- Federal income tax payments
- Political contributions
- Penalties and fines associated with breaking the law
- Lobbying expenses
- Membership dues, even if they’re for your business. (However, the costs associated with entertainment at social occasions, athletic events, luncheons, sporting events, airfare, and hotel clubs are deductible.)
Use tax deductions for your small business strategically to save money
Deductions may help reduce your tax burden, and a lot of expenses fall into this category, including marketing and advertising, employee wages, and your home office. If you’re not sure what you can deduct, check with your accounting professional to make sure your taxes are IRS-friendly.