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A Home Business - Claiming Expenses

Mar 30, 2008
With the huge growth in home businesses over the last 10 years one common question asked of an accountant is what expenses can be claimed for.

The problem with working out the expenses in a home-based business is that many costs incurred relate to both the house and the business. A prime example is your utility bills. How do you decide what percentage to allocate towards the running costs of your business? A simple method is to work out the over all area of the house and then decide what percentage is dedicated to your business.

This percentage can then be applied for all your main household bills like electricity, gas, and telephone charges. Obviously it makes sense to have a separate phone line purely for business so that you can allocate it 100% towards business expenses. If you find that your business is using the bulk of the energy then it might be a good idea to have separate meters for your utility bills.

Travel Expenses - The best way to claim for expenses is to charge the business per mile traveled. You are allowed to charge a small cost per kilometre traveled. Buying lunch for yourself is not a business expense unless you are entertaining a client.

You can also claim for any expense that has been incurred purely by running your business at home. As an example, if you buy office furniture for your home office this can be claimed as an expense.

Your business insurance can be claimed as an expense but not your home insurance. You can also claim all your advertising and marketing costs. You can not claim for clothing unless it is solely for the business. A good example might be protective clothing.

You can claim for all your accountancy and bookkeeping costs as well as the fees that your accountant charges you. Bad debts are also allowed effectively canceling out some of your sales.

If you network a lot remember to charge the membership fees as an expense. You can also make a claim for any business books or trade journals that are needed.

A grey area is the expenses incurred in maintaining the driveway, exterior of the buildings and the garden. People that work from home tend to spend more on looking after their property as they like to make a good impression on any clients that visit. You can not claim for making any repairs but it is possible to allocate a percentage of any improvements. It is a good idea to speak to your accountant about these costs.

Make sure that you keep the receipts for any claims as you may well be asked to produce and justify them. A good idea is to make a note on the back of the receipt as to why you claimed it because in years to come you might forget the reason.

If your employees regularly claim for expenses ask them to fill in an expense form with their reasons for the claim and make sure they attach any receipts.
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