Many obvious perks that come with owning your own business, including setting your own schedule, being your own boss, and having control over your career. But there are also many tax benefits business owners that can take advantage of to maximize their profits.
Here’s a quick guide that covers important tax deductions for your business.
What Will a Deduction Save Me?
A deduction, or write-off, is a business expense that can help lower your taxes. For example, if your business made $75,000 last year but you invested $10,000 in new business equipment, you would deduct that $10,000 from your net income. That means when it comes time to pay your taxes, you would need to pay tax on only $65,000 instead of the full $75,000.
How much will that deduction actually save you on your taxes? It’s important to weigh out the costs versus tax savings when you’re making a business purchase. Sometimes the tax benefits of owning a business don’t outweigh the expenses involved with a deduction. Luckily, we have a simple formula that can help you see the value of these deductions:
Business Expense x Tax Rate = Money You Save on Taxes
For example, if you spent $2,000 on a new camera for your business and your tax rate is 25%, your savings would be $500:
$2,000 X .25 = $500
If you don’t know your tax rate, you can always visit IRS.gov to see the latest tax rates and brackets for the year. Keep in mind that if you are self-employed, you will also need to pay self-employment tax, which is a little over 15%.
Of course, you can’t write off every expense as a business expense. According to the IRS, you should write off expenses that are ordinary (i.e. common and accepted in your industry) or necessary (i.e. helpful and appropriate for your business). That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative regarding a tax deduction. Think broad. Just be sure you know and document the business purpose.
Common Business Expenses That Qualify For Tax Deductions
A great example of getting creative in maximizing your tax benefits for owning a business comes from a client I work with who wrote off her houseboat at Lake Powell. She is a photographer who takes senior graduation photos, and she also loves Lake Powell.
She came up with a promotional idea of taking a handful of her clients down to Lake Powell each year for an exclusive photo shoot. Because of these promotional trips, she decided to purchase a houseboat as a business expense. While she can still enjoy the houseboat throughout the year with her friends and family, the reason for purchasing the boat was to grow her business, which makes it a business expense. The chance to win a vacation to Lake Powell and the stunning photos that result from these trips help build her client base and generate more revenue. Overall, it’s a win-win!
This example illustrates that business owners should not feel limited in the deductions they take. Below, I have listed several common business expenses you should consider as tax deductions, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.
- This includes plane tickets, transportation, gas, rental cars, meals, conferences, etc. If you have questions about what constitutes a business trip, check out our complete guide to writing off your vacation.
- These include meals where you discuss business or meet with clients, partners, prospects, etc.
- Business owners have more flexibility that allows them to strategize around their retirement contributions. At the end of the year, you can determine how much you want to contribute to your retirement to help lower your taxable income. If you have questions, reach out to our team to develop with the best game plan.
Vehicles and Transportation
- This can include purchases, leases, mileage, repairs, maintenance, insurance, etc. As we saw from the example above, it can even include houseboats!
- This can include the initial purchase, repairs, and monthly phone bills.
- Some examples include tools, furniture, cameras, computers, monitors, printers, and machinery. Again, this can be broad depending on your business needs, so don’t limit yourself.
Depreciation on AssetsDepreciation on any capital under your name is fully deductible. Equipment, rentals, vehicles, and other depreciable items of contention are covered under a Section 179 deduction—up to $1,050,000 from new.
InventoryOne of the tax benefits of owning a business is that everything in your warehouse can be written off at the end of the year. This will be valid whether you’re producing these goods yourself or serving as a middleman.
- Do you need office supplies or marketing materials like brochures, business cards, or posters? What about cleaning supplies or hardware like memory drives, routers, or servers? Keep track of all these expenses because they are all great tax deductions.
Employee Expenses or Contract Labor
- Whether you have employees or pay someone to help set up your office or website, you can count those payments as a deduction. In addition, any money you spend on business equipment, education, travel, meals, gifts, etc. for employees can be written off.
- This includes health insurance as well as business-related insurance expenses, such as data breach insurance, liability insurance, property insurance, etc.
- If you finance expensive equipment, vehicles, or more for your business, you can write off the full purchase price of the asset using bonus depreciation in the year you financed it, even though it might take you years to pay off.
Website and Software
- Are you paying to maintain your website or domain? Do you use editing software, subscriptions, or Microsoft products for your business? Make sure you write those expenses off!
- Say there’s a seminar, class, or workshop that could help you gain important skills for your business. Take advantage of the learning opportunity and then take advantage of the tax deductions by writing off the expenses related to that education. That includes books, travel to and from seminars, meals purchased while attending a workshop, etc.
- Since you are self-employed, you will need to pay self-employment tax, which covers Medicare and Social Security taxes and is roughly 15%. While there’s nothing fun about paying extra taxes, you can deduct half of the self-employment tax to lower your tax bill.
Marketing and Advertising
- This is another great area for thinking outside the box. You’ll likely have expenses related to ads, signs, logos, brochures, etc. but you could also sponsor community events, host a client retreat, or hold a promotional treasure hunt to build up your business.
Home Office or Rent
- Whether you rent an office space or work from home, you can take advantage of tax deductions. With rent, it’s easy to calculate your business expense because you have a monthly bill. For a home office, that can get a little trickier. Check out our guide for getting the most from your home office tax deduction.
Utility CostsOne of the significant tax benefits of owning a business: Every single one of the utilities required to keep you in operation is totally tax-deductible. The only limitation? Double services—if you have a dedicated phone line for your business on-site, you can’t also claim this same deduction for your home line.
InterestAny interest accrued on a small business loan, credit cards, or other borrowed money your business depends on can also be written off. As long as you, the owner, are legally liable for the debt, you should be good to go, making this one of the best tax benefits of owning a business.
Internet, Phone, and Other Bills
- Water, heat, air conditioning, internet, phone, hotspots, monthly subscriptions for marketing tools or video conferencing—these could all be important for your business to function. Don’t forget to add those as tax write-offs.
- Do you have to maintain a license for your job? Or do you need permits to operate? Those are additional tax deductions you’ll want to take advantage of.
More Questions About Tax Benefits of Owning a Business?
Have additional questions about how to write off your business expenses and the tax benefits of owning a business? Reach out to our team for advice. At Mazuma USA, we help small businesses save time, money, and stress by staying on top of their taxes and finances. We’d love to help you in any way we can.