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Small Business Tax Help: Don't Forget These Deductions

Dec 5, 2007
In an earlier article, I talked about how you, as a small business owner, can rightfully claim many small business deductions as a way to reduce your taxes. In this article, I'll present several more. Check to see if you have included these in your tax planning.

1. Deductions for Travel

If you fly somewhere on business and you are not reimbursed for that expense, you can claim a write-off. As always, keep a detailed log or diary of your expenses. You can claim associated expenses such as taxi fares, subway tokens -- and even stuff like dry-cleaning expenses. As for meals, you can write off half your meal expenses.

You can even write off expenses you incur for employees and/or business associates that you are traveling with (friends and family members are out). Consult your tax professional for more details.

2. Deductions for Software

If your business uses customized computer software you can claim the expense of that software as long as you spread out the deduction over three years.

But...Section 179 of the IRS rules allow you take the write-off on computer software all in the first year, IF that software is "off-the-shelf," in other words, something like Microsoft Office.

3. Deductions for Charitable Contributions

When discussing this kind of deduction, the rules are a bit complicated. For starters, if your small business is a partnership, or if it is classified as an S corporation, or if you're organized as a limited liability company, your members will be filing the company's taxes on your personal forms -- including donations to charity that you have made. In other words, charitable donations are a "pass-through," as is the case with the company's income. C corporations are entitled to corporate deductions.

[Note: if you don't know what kind of classification you fall under, consult your tax professional or your attorney.]

OK, then, now that is out of the way, here are the rules:

You, as an individual, can write off 30-50% of your adjusted gross income as long as the organization you are donating to qualifies as a 501(c)(3)charity or foundation.

A corporation can write off up to 10% of their taxable income.

If you donate more than $250 you'll need to have a letter from that organization that confirms your contribution. Make sure you read IRS Publication 551 as well as the rules set forth in Section 179. Consult your tax professional for more details.

4. Deductions for Advertising

It's true: you'll either advertise your company now, or when you have your going out of business sale. Either way, advertising and marketing expenses are deductible -- if they are directly related to your business. They fall under the "Miscellaneous" category of write-offs. Check out IRS Publication 535 and consult your tax professional for more details.

5. Deductions for Legal and Professional Fees

OK, I saved this one for last because it relates directly to the thing I've said many times already: "Consult your tax professional for more details."

Fact is, fees you pay to your attorney and/or accountant are deductible -- under certain conditions. For example, you can't write off professional fees you expend when you buy a business asset (e.g., equipment). In that case, you include the charges in the cost of the purchase.

Sole proprietors can take a write-off on fees paid for tax prep. Use Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ. In addition, uses Schedule A of your 1040. Make sure you check with your tax preparer for complete details.

Conclusion

The US government wants you to succeed in business. So they offer lots of latitude in claiming expense write-offs. So make sure you get what's yours.
About the Author
For More Small Business Tax Help , visit Ara Rubyan's Your Tax Help Online .
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