Top 20 Common Advertising Expenses for Small Business Owners

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ADVERTISINGYou’re probably spending a fair amount of money on advertising your small business to potential clients and customers. Whether you’ve got a whole marketing team running the show or you just purchased your first newspaper ad, most money spent on promoting your small business is tax deductible. We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 most common advertising expenses for small business owners to keep in mind come tax season:

  1. Graphic design fees: logos, business cards, brochures, signs, printed or online advertisements, flyers, or other promotional materials designed professionally
  2. Printing of promotional materials: business cards, flyers, postcards, brochures, and coupons
  3. Storefront signs
  4. Vehicle signs or vinyl decals for windows
  5. Yellow Page advertisements
  6. Radio advertisements
  7. Magazine advertisements
  8. Television commercials
  9. Website set-up, design, and maintenance
  10. Pay-per-click ads and online advertisements
  11. Social media promotions
  12. Promotional materials with your logo such as t-shirts, mugs, pens, notepads and more
  13. Balloons, decorations, refreshments, and any other expenses incurred for parties or open houses promoting your busines
  14. SEO services
  15. Packaging design and materials for your products

The following are considered goodwill advertising expenses and are tax deductible as well. Goodwill advertising is any type of promotion that keeps your small business in the public eye.

  1. Sponsoring a youth sports team in your community such as little league baseball or soccer
  2. Money donated to a school or local cause
  3. Participating in a parade to promote your business, such as handing out flyers, frisbees, pens, or shirts
  4. Giving away products or samples. Donated services and time are not tax deductible.
  5. Advertisements encouraging people to donate to a certain charity, like the Red Cross

While most advertising expenses for your small business are deductible, some are not. The most important things to keep in mind when deducting business expenses are that the purchase cannot be used for personal gain, and the expenses must be considered both ordinary and necessary. Any advertising expense that is common for your type of business will likely be accepted by the IRS as a deduction. When in doubt about a specific advertising expense, ask your accountant.


Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton

Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.

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