7 Small Business Tax Deductions That You Don’t Want To Miss

Are you neglecting to deduct business expenses on your tax return?

You could be leaving money on the table. Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or just setting up shop, you can save thousands of dollars in tax deductions. So which expenses qualify? To receive a tax deduction, business expenses must be necessary and typical for the type of business you run.

There are exceptions to the rule. You can’t write off speeding or parking tickets. But don’t let this stop you from saving serious money on your tax return. Place those dollar bills back into your wallet by adding these commonly overlooked business expenses to the list.

1. Costs to Keep Your Business Running

As you maintain your business, you’re bound to purchase office supplies and advertising. But did you know that you can also write off equipment repair, business calls, and office furniture payments?

There are limits though.

  • If your business goes under, you can’t deduct costs for exploring a business opportunity. But you can deduct costs for products, materials, and supplies in your inventory.
  • You also can’t completely deduct costs from starting your business. Instead, you can deduct up to $5,000 the first year and write off any remaining startup costs periodically over the course of 15 years.
  • Every cent you invest into your business is referred to as either a capital expense or a current expense.

Capital expenses are your business asset purchases, long-lasting equipment that will continually improve your business in subsequent years. Because capital expenses normally don’t wear out after the first year, these expenses are depreciated and deducted over a period of time.

Current expenses are charges for equipment or services used every day to maintain a profitable business. They’re normally used up in the first year, so you can deduct the total cost of current expenses on your tax return.

  • Repairs that add value to equipment, prolong the lifespan, or adapt an item to a different use can be deducted on your tax return.
  • Advertising fees to create promotional materials like business cards and print, radio, yellow pages, and banner advertisements are completely deductible.
  • If you regularly use the phone to call clients or customers, you can deduct charges relevant to your business.

Be forewarned though: if you try to mask personal purchases by claiming them as business expenses, you might be in deep waters when your tax return triggers an audit.

2. Home Office Fees and Rent

Do you work from home? Deduct a portion of rent, insurance, and utility payments if you have an office that is dedicated to business.

There is one drawback. Your office has to be exclusively for business use.

It’s fine to work in your slippers, but you can’t take a home office deduction if your bed is in the room unless your office is sectioned off. You also can’t let your children play Legos in your workspace. And you most certainly can’t watch TV in your office during downtime.If you do, your office won’t be considered exclusively for business.

You also have to use your office consistently to take advantage of the home office deduction. Feel free to call clients, bill customers, take notes, set appointments, meet with clients, order materials, or write reports in your office. But an office that you only use occasionally doesn’t count.

There are exceptions to the rule. If you run a daycare business or you have a room set up for inventory storage, you can still take the deduction even if the room isn’t used 100% for business.

3. Auto Payments

Did you know that you can deduct the cost of gas consumed while driving to and from client meetings?

Whether you own a real estate business, regularly meet with clients, or rent an office away from home, you can save hundreds of dollars on your tax return.

Use your car for business? You can calculate your deduction one of two ways.

  • Deduct based on the standard mileage rate. If your regular business routine requires that you constantly be on the road, you might be able to save more by deducting a certain amount of money after every mile driven, along with toll and parking costs.
  • Deduct actual expenses. If you occasionally meet with clients or your car consumes more gas than average, you can save a great deal more by deducting a portion of expenses for gas, replacement tires, oil changes, insurance, and car registration.

Always keep an organized record of your car usage, and filing your federal and state income taxes will be as simple as doing a few math calculations.

4. Travel and Entertainment Costs

Do you remember that vacation deal you purchased right before your last business trip?

Write off a portion of your plane fare, depending on how you spent your vacation. Part of your transportation costs is qualified as a deduction if over half of your trip was spent on business. The more time you devoted to your business, the higher the deduction.

Needed to pay for clean clothes while you were away? You can deduct laundry and dry cleaning expenses. You can also deduct commuting costs, lodging fees, tips, fax charges, and costs to ship product samples and display materials.

Moreover, if you’ve ever hosted an event for your business at your office, restaurant, or another location, you can deduct entertainment expenses that helped promote business growth or well-being. Keep in mind that only 50% of meals are deductible.

You can even deduct moving costs if you had to relocate your home because of work. If the move wasn’t directly related to your business though, you can’t claim the deduction.

5. Educational Materials and Professional Fees

Have you purchased a book to learn a skill that would directly impact your business? How about that copywriter you hired to craft a sales page that would later transform a product launch into a massive success?

Business-related books, legal fees, and professional services are all fully deductible on your tax return.

You’re not just limited to books and independent contractors though. If you pay an accountant or purchase a tax program every year, you can deduct tax preparation fees.

Own a business with hired staff? You can reduce taxes by deducting salaries, bonuses, and fringe benefits like health insurance and sick leave.

6. Bad Debts

If you sell your own services, you’ve likely stumbled across an occasional troublesome client. Your client might refuse to pay you for work performed, lowering your profit margin for the month. Maybe you’ve even loaned money to customers or suppliers, but the loan was never paid off.

Luckily, this income loss is completely deductible as long as you provide written documentation stating the amount of the debt, interest rate if applicable, and the steps you took to collect the debt. If you can prove that you’ve made several attempts to receive payment and the debt is impossible to collect, you can write it off on your tax return.

Save your hard-earned cash at the end of the year by keeping a detailed record of business-related purchases and activities. You can use financial software to help with this, but simply opening an excel spreadsheet to jot down expenses as they pop up works as well.

Separate payments into clearly marked categories and you’ll save both time and money the next time you file taxes.

7. The Hummer Deduction

Has your business purchased a car or a large machine recently? This can be converted into a large tax benefit using “The Hummer Deduction”, also know as section 179 of the tax code. Learn More

Disclaimer: You should consult with your tax advisor before following any of the ideas in this article. This article is a starting point for discussion with your advisor. I am not a tax professional and while I believe that what is contained in this article is generally true, it may not be true in your particular case.

How Can Product Life Cycle MBA Theory Help You With Online Sales In Your Small Business?

The other day I was speaking with an entrepreneur who sold her wares on eBay and Amazon. Her business is going well, but she'd really like to get to $ 10K per month in sales without taking too much more of her time, as she is a believer in multiple income streams and wants to expand those other business models too. My suggestion was to introduce new products constantly, but on a strategically timed basis. Okay so, let's talk about this.

Have you ever looked at a Product Life Cycle graph in a Business Text Book? Well, if so what you saw was the traditional teachings of 'product life-cycle' which they teach in MBA school, retail merchandising, and marketing classes. Still, we can take this concept and use it for online sales and new product scheduling, consider this concept.

Now then, picture the 'mound curve' and as it starts up at its steepest point, that's a great time to introduce a new product and get it started because eventually the first product will be plateau'ing. If you do that properly the new product will start to go hyperbolic and dissect the first product's life-cycle peaking. If you want to stay hyperbolic you need to continue to introduce products in this fashion, which is kind of what companies like Proctor and Gamble and GE try to do.

An especially interesting case study would be INTEL and Apple as they try to stay in the high-profit sweet zone, it does wonders for their stock price. If you have a great product that is really cooking but has a shorter life-cycle (examples: cell phones, chips, and perhaps social networking add-on or new features) then you can keep the price high and go for the 'early adopters 'of tech or companies that buy your products so they can stay on the bleeding-edge in the case of an AMD or INTEL.

In looking at that concept, you can see that concept working for someone who sells many different products online. You maybe can tell when you have a meteorite product which will move fast, but burn out, so you launch your new product when your sales are blowing it out, because soon they will burn out, and you don't want your per month sales to tank, and leave you in a cash flow crunch. See that point from a strategic standpoint.

I think you can use some mathematical formulas to figure this out, and I imagine someday some Oracle or SAP software connected to a corporate digital nervous system (Bill Gates book; "The Road Ahead" reference) where an Artificial Intelligent system which tracks all outlets and sales, inventory in real time will be able to do this with 90% accuracy, and that will give executives information needed to plan and strategize for capital spending, innovation exploits and cash flow. But you can do it long-hand using the same math, since your small business is not so complicated; yet.

Best of all you can break your business into components and product categories and then you'll have a great picture of what you are doing and plot a course of EXACATTACKILY where you want to go; where you will go! Think On It.