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Tax Concerns For Ecommerce And Small Business

Jan 18, 2008
One of the most complex and confusing aspects of running a small business, especially an ecommerce business, is the bookkeeping. Each state and country has different tax requirements, different expenses that can be written off, and different percentages.

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is by putting their receipts in a shoe box and then taking it to a bookkeeper once a year. This type of financial management costs small businesses thousands of dollars a year. 'A penny saved is a penny earned.' This adage applies to small business.

The ability to save $500 - $5000 in a year is the same as earning that money. However, to do this, a business needs to keep solid records. They need to know what they can write off. For example, small businesses are allowed to write off a percentage of their home. This not only includes the floor space used by the business, it includes everything from the cleaning supplies, yard care products, hydro, taxes, insurance, and mortgage interest.

Very few business owners keep receipts for things such as light bulbs, vacuum bags, window cleaner. Most business owners do not even keep all the receipts for their office supplies. They run to the store and buy a package of printer paper, or while they are shopping for Christmas they will treat themselves to a new keyboard. They have good intentions, and plan to save these receipts, but they never do.

A business person that must do sales calls can claim their clothing, grooming products, and dry-cleaning costs. However, they may only claim a certain percentage of their food, entertainment, and auto expenses.
Auto expenses includes everything from car washes, insurance, car repairs, tires, interior detailing, and even air fresheners and oil jobs.

Take a look at these figures for food. Assume that a small business owner drinks two coffees a day, at $1.20 each. That is $48 a month, or about $625 a year. Add to this the cost of an occasional lunch, fast food, and the bill can grow to $1000. Writing off 50%, $500, at a 25% income tax bracket, saves the business owner $125.

Do this with cleaning products, office supplies, oil jobs, and the small business owner can easily recoup thousands of dollars. Now, here it the key.

Some states and countries will repay the small business owner income tax money, even if they haven't paid any. For example, in Canada, a company that takes a $5000 loss in a sole proprietorship, and the business owner did not pay income tax, they may still see a $400 - $1000 refund.

The second concern is that small business owners are not concerned with $1000 - $5000 in random or inconsequential receipts. However, three years down the road when the business is earning a profit, those 'write offs' will come in handy.

It is also possible to earn a tax break by volunteering services. The small business owner gives their services, and bills the service. Then, they take a tax receipt for the 'donation.' The business owner has built their credibility and exposure, and received a receipt to lower their taxes.

This is one area where it becomes tricky. Many businesses barter. There are even B2B bartering organizations. This is 'real' cash from the Tax man's perspective. The business must charge the other business at 'real value' and in return, accept a bill for 'real value.' This money is taxed as if it was cash. Many businesses never consider this when accepting 'free' help, or services in exchange for help they must pay federal, state, and income tax, on the service.

Retail tax is another area that business owners overlook. This is a legitimate tax deduction. In fact, a business may be able to claim 'tax exempt' status, so they do not need to pay tax to their vendors and suppliers.

Taking advantage of the legitimate tax breaks offered by the government is one way to help launch a business and increase cash flow.
About the Author
Mark Walters is a third generation entrepreneur and author. He offers free training and investing videos designed to speed you towards financial independence at http://www.cashflowinstitute.com/videosignup.htm
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