What Is the Qualified Business Income Deduction?

screenshot of the Section 199A page on irs.gov

In 2017, there were major changes to tax law. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included reductions in tax rates for businesses and individuals, increasing the standard deduction and family tax credits, eliminating personal exemptions, and making it less beneficial to itemize deductions, limiting deductions for state and local income taxes and property taxes. 

With these reductions of tax rates for businesses, it was felt that this would be very fair for small businesses. Most small businesses are set up as pass-through entities. This is where the income tax is passed through the entity and the tax responsibility is left on the owner or owners as individual taxpayers. To level the playing field, Section 199A was added to the Act.

 

What Is Section 199A?

Section 199A details an individual taxpayer deduction for qualified business income. It is called the Qualified Business Income Deduction. This deduction allows eligible self-employed and small business owners to deduct up to 20% of their business income, REIT dividends, or qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income on their individual tax returns. The Qualified Business Income Deduction lowers your taxable income, which is the amount used to determine how much you owe in taxes. Unless changes to this law are made, it is to be available for tax years 2018-2025.

The 20% Qualified Business Income Deduction is calculated as the lesser of 20% of the taxpayer’s qualified business income, plus (if applicable) 20% of qualified real estate investment trust dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership income or 20% of the taxpayer’s taxable income minus net capital gains. The 20% deduction reduces federal income tax but not Social Security or Medicare taxes. It also does not reduce self-employment tax.

 

Who Qualifies for the Qualified Business Income Deduction?

The 199A deduction is provided for sole-proprietorships, partnerships, S-corporations, trusts, or estates. Income from C-corporations, any trade or business whose principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more of its employees or owners or services you performed as an employee of another person or business does not qualify. 

This does not mean that any business income from these entities qualifies for the 20% deduction. This deduction comes with significant qualifications. This is what they call an “above-the-line” deduction, so it does not matter if you take the standard deduction or if you itemize on a Schedule A. The deduction is only for pass-through entities and qualified business income from these entities. It is not available for wage income and can be limited by which type of business in which you are engaged, your taxable income, W-2 wages paid, and the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of qualified property.

The Qualified Business Income Deduction is the net number of qualified items of income, gain, deduction, and loss from any qualified trade or business. This includes but is not limited to the deductible part of self-employment tax, self-employed health insurance, and deductions for contributions to qualified retirement plans. The Qualified Business Income Deduction is the taxable income that comes from a domestic business. If a business has both domestic and foreign income only the domestic income qualifies.

 

What Does Not Qualify For the Qualified Business Income Deduction?

The Qualified Business Income Deduction does not include items such as:

  • Items that are not properly includable in taxable income
  • Investment items such as capital gains or losses or dividends
  • Interest income not properly allocable to a trade or business
  • Wage income
  • Income that is not effectively connected with the conduct of business within the United States
  • Commodities transactions or foreign currency gains or losses
  • Certain dividends and payments in lieu of dividends
  • Income, loss, or deductions from notional principal contracts
  • Annuities, unless received in connection with the trade or business
  • Amounts received as reasonable compensation from an S corporation
  • Amounts received as guaranteed payments from a partnership
  • Payments received by a partner for services other than in a capacity as a partner.
  • Qualified REIT dividends
  • Publicly traded partnership (PTP) income

There is a safe harbor rule for 199A purposes available to individuals and owners of pass-through entities who seek to claim the deduction under section 199A with respect to a rental real estate enterprise. Under the safe harbor, a rental real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for the purposes of the Qualified Business Income Deduction if certain requirements are met.

Also, there are income limitations to qualify for the deduction.

 

2020 Qualified Business Income Deduction Income Thresholds

 

Filing Status Income Threshold (limit for the full deduction) Income Limit for a partial deduction
Single $163,300 $213,300
Head of household $163,300 $213,300
Married filing jointly $326,600 $426,600
Married filing separately $163,300 $213,300

 

If you are below these thresholds, it is very straightforward and you should qualify for the 20% deduction on your taxable business income. 

If you are above these limits, it gets confusing as to who qualifies and who does not. Above those limits, your ability to claim the deduction depends on the precise nature of your business. Even if your business qualifies, you may not get to enjoy the full 20% break as the deduction phases out for certain types of businesses.

 

Determining If Your Business is an SSTB

If the business owner’s taxable income is above the income limits, you will need to determine if the business is a specified service trade or business (SSTB). An SSTB is a trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields below:

  • Accounting
  • Actuarial science
  • Athletics
  • Brokerage services
  • Consulting
  • Financial services
  • Health services, such as performed by doctors and nurses
  • Investing and investment management
  • Law, including lawyers
  • Performing arts
  • Trading

Many businesses offer a multitude of services or products. A business will not be considered an SSTB if less than 10 percent of the gross receipts, (5 percent if gross receipts are greater than $25 million) of the trade or business are attributable to the performance of specified services. 

Many business owners are trying workarounds to restructure their businesses by splitting up their business into two or more entities with the same owner to separate the SSTB income and non-SSTB income and avoid missing out on part or all the Qualified Business Income Deduction. 

To prevent this workaround there are set rules that if a non-SSTB has 50% or more common ownership with an SSTB and the non-SSTB provides 80% or more of its property or services to the SSTB, the non- SSTB will by regulation be treated as part of the SSTB.

 

What If Your Taxable Income is Above the Threshold?

If your taxable income is equal to or higher than the threshold, your maximum possible deduction is subject to limitations. How much you can get will decrease based on your income. 

The deduction considers multiple factors, and the instructions will walk you through them. If the income is from a specified service trade or business (an SSTB), it does not qualify for the deduction once it passes the maximum threshold. 

If you are between the thresholds and an SSTB, the deduction will be phased out until it no longer exists. If you are not an SSTB and you go over the phase-in range, your deduction could be limited by your W-2 wages paid or the UBIA of qualified property held by a trade or business.

There are many more factors that affect a taxpayer’s qualifications for the deduction and factors that set limitations on the percentage one can deduct. The IRS has noted that 95 percent of small business owners will fall below the thresholds and not have to worry about the limitations. If you are below the threshold, you would use IRS Form 8995 (Qualified Business Income Deduction Simplified Computation). 

If your taxable income is more than the income threshold then you would use IRS Form 8995-A (Qualified Business Income Deduction). Both of these forms take you through the process of adding up your qualified business income, qualified REIT dividends, and qualified PTP income. This will determine the amount of your deduction.

 

Are You Taking Advantage of the Deductions Available to You?

I am sure many questions are still left unanswered. This is one of the most complex tax laws not only from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act but in all of the tax codes. The IRS website provides a lot more information if you’d like to dig in further.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has identified nearly 900,000 returns filed for 2018 that did not take the Qualified Business Income Deduction even though it appeared that they qualified. In my past articles, I have always recommended that a taxpayer seeks advice and assistance from a true tax professional. 

When it comes to the 199A deduction, it is imperative that a business owner has the correct tax professional assisting them especially if they are above the limitations. Enrolled Agents, CPA’s and Tax Attorneys can make sure you are not missing out on this valuable deduction and formulate strategies in the operation of the business that will increase the likelihood of you being able to benefit from the Qualified Business Income Deduction. Most importantly, as complex as it is, they can make sure that your tax return is filed correctly so that you get the correct deductions and don’t have to worry about a future IRS examination or an IRS audit.

 

What Can I Deduct on My Taxes?

a 1040 tax return

When filing your taxes there are many ways to reduce your tax bill or ways to get yourself a bigger refund. This can happen using different credits and deductions that are available. 

This article will discuss different tax deductions that can be used on your tax return to reduce your taxable income. I will start off by discussing the choice of either using the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions. I will also discuss above the line deductions which can be used in addition to the standard deduction.

 

What is a Tax Deduction?

A tax deduction is a deduction that lowers a person’s or organization’s liability by lowering their taxable income. Deductions are typically expenses that the taxpayer incurs during the year that can be applied against or subtracted from their gross income to figure out how much they owed. There is always confusion about the difference between the deduction and a tax credit. Remember a deduction reduces your taxable income while a credit directly reduces your tax bill.

On a tax return, you can either take the standard deduction or you can itemize your deductions. You cannot do both. When making the decision to itemize your deductions or to take the standard deduction it is especially important that you evaluate your situation thoroughly to see which will better benefit you. 

It is much easier to take the standard deduction but if you qualify for many deductions the choice to itemize can equate to many tax dollars saved so take your time to review the different deductions that are available and which ones that you qualify for. If these deductions that you qualify for are greater than the standard for your filing status, then you have the answer to your question. 

Having a true tax professional to assist you in reviewing your situation to make this decision is recommended. I will start off with the standard deduction so you have the information on that choice to compare to the breakdown of the possible itemized deductions that you could qualify for.

 

What is the Standard Deduction?

The standard deduction is the portion of income not subject to tax that can be used to reduce your tax bill. Even if you have no other qualifying deductions the IRS allows you to take the standard deduction no questions ask. In the past, the decision to take the standard deduction or to itemize was much more difficult. In 2017, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction was almost doubled making this decision much easier. This will remain in effect for 2018 through 2025. 

The amount of your standard deduction now is based on your filing status, age, and whether you are disabled or claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. The standard deduction adjusts every year based on inflation. The allowable standard deduction for 2020 and 2021 is laid out below as seen on Nerd Wallet.

Filing status 2020 tax year 2021 tax year
Single $12,400 $12,550
Married, filing jointly $24,800 $25,100
Married, filing separately $12,400 $12,550
Head of household $18,650 $18,800

The standard deduction is higher for taxpayers who are 65 and older at the end of the year and/or blind. This extra deduction applies to taxpayers and spouses if married.  Increase the standard deduction by the following for each occurrence of the conditions above. 

For married filing jointly, married filing separately or qualified widow there would be an increase in the deduction by $1300 for 2020 and $1350 for 2021. 

For single or head of household filers, the increase would be $1650 for 2020 and $1700 for 2021. 

If a taxpayer is claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return is limited to the greater of $1,100 in 2020 or the individual’s earned income for the year plus $350.

 

Tax Deductions You Should Itemize

Itemized deductions are expenses that can be subtracted from adjusted gross income to reduce your taxable income and therefore reduce the amount of taxes owed. Such deductions would permit those who qualify the ability to pay less in taxes than if they had taken the standard deduction. Itemized deductions are listed on Schedule A of Form 1040. If you decide to itemize you must save all receipts in case the IRS decides to audit you because they can request proof. 

There are many different deductions that one may qualify for. If the amount of these deductions that you qualify for are more than the standard deduction and you have proof of all these deductions, then you should itemize.

State and Local Taxes

Taxpayers can deduct state and local real estate, personal property, and either income or sales taxes. For taxes 2018 through 2025 this deduction is limited to $10,000.

Mortgage Interest

Taxpayers can deduct home mortgage interest on the first $750,000 of mortgage debt. Homeowners can only deduct mortgage interest on home equity loans if the debt was used to buy, build, or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. Homeowners may deduct mortgage interest on the primary and secondary properties.

Charitable Contributions

Taxpayers are allowed to deduct charitable contributions up to 60% of the adjusted gross income.

Medical Expenses

A taxpayer can deduct unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of their adjusted gross income for the tax year.

Long-Term Care Premiums

Long-term care insurance premiums are tax-deductible to the extent that the premiums exceed 20% of an individual’s adjusted gross income. There is a deduction limit based on your age and the insurance must be qualified.

Gambling Losses

A taxpayer can deduct gambling losses only to the extent of their winnings. You can not deduct more than you win.

IRA Contributions

A taxpayer can deduct qualified IRA Contributions from a Traditional IRA. The amount of the deduction may differ if a taxpayer or their spouse has a 401k as well.

Self-Employment Expenses

A self-employed taxpayer can deduct 50% of the amount that they are paying in self-employment taxes.

Student Loan Interest

A taxpayer can deduct up to $2500 of the interest paid on a student loan from their taxable income.

Casualty and Theft Losses

Any casualty or theft loss incurred because of a federally declared disaster can be reported on a Schedule A. Unfortunately, only losses of more than 10% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income are deductible.

Moving Expenses

If a taxpayer is in the military and the move is permanent and was ordered by the military then they can claim a deduction on unreimbursed moving expenses. They can claim travel and lodging expenses, the cost of moving household goods, and the cost of shipping cars and pets.

Educator Expense Deduction

If a taxpayer is a schoolteacher or other eligible educator, they can deduct up to $250 spent on classroom supplies.

 

Tax Deductions That Have Been Limited or Eliminated 

Many commonly used and well know deductions have been recently eliminated or limited. In the past, an employer could reimburse a taxpayer up to $20 a month tax-free for bicycle commuting expenses. There were also employer-related deductions for parking, transit, and carpooling. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended these benefits. 

Another common deduction was the expenses from a move. In the past when a taxpayer relocated for a new job, they could use the expenses not only from the cost of moving their possessions but the cost of travel as well. Beginning in 2018 this deduction is only allowable for specific situations and only allowable for taxpayers in the military. 

Also, in the past, a taxpayer that made alimony payments was able to receive a deduction for alimony paid and the person receiving the alimony would include the money as taxable income. With any divorce decree beginning in 2019 the payer will no longer receive a deduction and the spouse receiving no longer must claim alimony as income. 

The medical expense deduction has not gone away but the threshold has changed so that the expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. In years past the threshold was 10%. 

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also set limitations on SALT Tax deductions. SALT Tax is state and local taxes. In the past the amount that a taxpayer could deduct was unlimited. Now the SALT deduction is limited to $10,000. 

 

Understand Which Tax Deductions You Are Eligible For

In conclusion with the rise in the standard deduction and the limitation in many of the itemized expenses the decision of which method to utilize has gotten easier but it is still difficult. Also, with the many recent changes, it is especially important that you understand what you are eligible for and what you are not if you are thinking about itemizing overtaking the standard deduction. Unless a taxpayer has mortgage interest and property taxes, significant charitable gifts, or a major medical event it would probably make more sense to take the standard deduction. 

As I always recommend when filing taxes and tax planning, it will always benefit a taxpayer to consult with somebody that has the knowledge and licensing to correctly advise them. An Enrolled Agent and a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) are the tax professionals that have the educational background to best advise a taxpayer.

 

Standard vs Itemized Deductions & When To Use Them

adding tax deductions on a tax form

When it comes to choosing between standard versus itemized deductions, it involves simple math and understanding which deduction works best for you.

There are often mixed feelings when tax filing season arrives. For some individuals and businesses, the thought of filing a tax return isn’t so pleasant, especially when they’ve made quite a bit of money over the past year. For others, tax time is rewarding, with an expectation of a large refund. It all depends on how your income tax situation looks and the choices you make when filing your income tax return.

But before you file, one thing is for certain, it’s smart to understand all your options to receive the best possible outcome. A great deal of your outcome depends on how you add your deductions. There are two ways: The standardized deduction and the itemized deduction route. Both have positive and negative aspects.

 

What Are Tax Deductions?

A tax deduction basically lowers an individual or a company’s liability by reducing taxable income. As many organizations and individuals wait until the end of the year to settle tax debts, deductions are important for offsetting the yearly gross income.

Income that isn’t taxed during the year will come for collection when it’s time to file income tax returns. The company or individual’s work expenses must be factored into the owed taxes to calculate what’s actually due. Since purchases are acquired and bills are paid during the tax year to keep the business running, these expenses must be recorded against taxes due. This is why deductions are good news for the business.

And taxpayers have a choice in how to record deductions. You can either choose the standardized deduction, a number used as a set deduction for simplified tax purposes, or the itemized deduction, where every expense is recorded individually. One may save you more money than the other. This is important to any taxpayer at the end of the year.

 

Why Tax Codes Differ

Different tax codes are depending on the region where you live. These codes vary at the state or federal level. Tax code standards are set on an annual basis for both the federal and state governments.

The federal government often sets tax deductions in a certain way hopeful that taxpayers will get involved in bettering society through community service. There are also tax deductions for stocks as long as they are owned for investment reasons. They are counted as a realized capital loss.

Rare deduction options

Before delving into the two basic deduction types, it’s important to be aware of an uncommon deduction option for rare circumstances. A tax loss carryforward is a capital loss not included in either standardized or itemized deductions. It’s the only exemption in the tax laws. The tax loss carryforward benefits the taxpayer as earnings are rearranged and carried from previous years. As far as capital losses, you can claim $3,000. This is as of last year.

 

Standardized vs Itemized Deductions: What’s the difference?

Tax deductions, as mentioned, come in two major forms, with rare exceptions for tax loss carryforward. These two deduction options provide ways for individuals and organizations alike to discover the best way to apply their expenses to income tax returns.

Standardized Deductions

In simple terms, a standardized deduction is a set number, and itemized is a list of all individual or organizational expenses, but to grasp the concept there’s more you need to know.

Standardized deductions in the United States change from year to year and are the deductions offered to individuals by the federal government. Tax laws are also different in each state offered at the state tax level. These tax laws can also change where needed each year.

With standard deductions, there are no calculations needed as the amount is already determined. It’s usually considered the easier route, as individuals or organizations can shorten tax filing time with a set deduction. While many organizations choose the itemized route, most individual taxpayers choose the standard route.

Itemized Deductions

With itemized deductions, there’s more work, as each expense or loss is looked at individually. In this case, calculations are necessary to determine the right amount of the deduction, or square footage of some home offices, a portion of utilities, and so forth.

You can only choose the itemized deduction route if your expenses are more than the standardized allotment. The most benefit with using itemized deductions comes from numerous large expenses that are certain to add up to be more than the standard figure provided by the federal government and approved through individual state laws.

 

When to Use Standardized Deductions

If you’re confident that your deductions are less than the standardized amount allowed by the federal government, you should use the standard route. You can use one of three standardized deductions depending on your filing status. These include:

  • Married, filing jointly, or widow- $24,800
  • Married or single filing separately-$12,500
  • Head of Household-$18,650

Pros and cons of standardized deductions

Standard deductions can be used by anyone, and they’ve proven beneficial to those without mortgages or low-income families. With this deduction, there is no tracking of expenses, and no pressure to provide documentation of any kind.

 Another good thing about the standardized deduction is that some individuals qualify for larger than usual amounts, like the disabled or people of a certain age. If you are blind or over the age of 65, you qualify for an additional amount between $1,300 and $1,650. The reason for this addition is because those with disabilities or mature in age have additional medical or psychiatric needs at times. This extra deduction amount can help exponentially during tax time.

The only issue with this deduction is that you might not get as much money as the itemized deductions allotment, or there could be filing limits on your standard amount. These limits are few but important to remember.

  • If you’re married and your spouse files using itemized deductions, you cannot receive the standard deduction amount.
  • In more rare circumstances, like if you’re filing for under a year because of new citizenship, this deduction isn’t available.
  • If you’re a nonresident alien or dual citizen, you cannot get a standardized deduction either
  • And, of course, if you’ve filed on another individual’s tax returns, you cannot receive this deduction. But this is a given.

When to Use Itemized Deductions

Itemized deductions can be used in various circumstances or for certain expenses. Several situations qualify for itemized deduction according to the federal government, like retirement funds, or when you’re filing jointly with a spouse. The qualifying deductions are as follows:

  • Home mortgage interest
  • Home office expenses and other freelance work deductions
  • Recorded and calculated charitable donations
  • Non-profit organization donations
  • Religious donations such as tithes
  • Government organization payments
  • Business expenses, such as travel costs and meals
  • Networking expenses, physical and online business meetings and, etc.
  • Annual tax and sales tax on personal property like cars and homes.
  • Healthcare, Dental, prescription drugs, and medical bills
  • Property taxes

Stipulations on Itemized Deductions

There are certain limits on how much you can count on itemized deductions. A threshold is set by the federal government for these expenses. Medical expenses, for instance, must be more than a certain percent of your adjusted gross income. You cannot itemize a few prescriptions and a couple of medical bills to qualify.

As an example, last year’s expenses had to be more than 7.5 % of an individual’s AGI. If you file your income taxes, you must be aware of this year’s percentage. So, it’s best to have this information at hand before tax time arrives. If using an accountant, they are aware of this information so there’s no concern. An accountant can help you decide which deduction is best for you if you’re unsure.

Pros and cons of itemized deductions

The obvious positive aspects of itemized deductions are the numerous deductions allowed and the opportunity for a better tax refund outcome. Itemized deductions often count in your favor, decreasing or eliminating owed taxes, or even awarding a nice large refund to individuals or companies. You can save more money according to your tax bracket as well.

As lucrative as itemized deductions may seem, they do come with drawbacks. With itemized deductions, there is a large amount of paperwork to be completed. This requires tallying up expenses and gathering any needed documentation to account for each expense. It’s a manual process that takes energy and patience, even with a possible benefit in mind. Even worse, sometimes this manual work still results in a negative outcome. This is the largest drawback to using itemized deductions on tax returns.

Another downside to itemized deductions comes from The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This law limits state and local deductions to $10,000, even for taxes on the property. Also, If interest is taken out of home equity loans, except in cases of home renovations, this interest cannot be counted with itemized deductions. There’s a $75,000 limit on this deductible interest too.

 

Choosing Between Standardized and Itemized Deductions

It may not be easy to choose which type of deduction process you should utilize, especially if you’re on the threshold of multiple or large expenses. It’s sometimes difficult to be sure where you qualify. It’s so important to think about these options during the year and not wait until the last minute to avoid stress and frustration, even the possibility of choosing the wrong way.

If you’re not sure, seek a tax professional to help you understand your particular life situation and where you fit into the tax equation. With this information, you can effectively add your deductions and possibly save a lot of money in the long run.

 

Small Business Tax Planning

an Open sign in the window of a small business

When starting a new business there are many things that need to be learned to run your business correctly. One thing that you will learn quickly is that filing taxes for a business is much more complex than filing taxes for an individual. As a tax professional, I would always recommend hiring a tax professional to advise you on any tax filing

When you have a business, the knowledge of a true tax professional, either an Enrolled Agent or a CPA will save you far more money than you must pay to hire them. Also, there are so many mistakes that can be made when filing taxes for a business it makes sense to have someone who knows what they are doing to prevent an examination or audit

Today I will start with going over a lot of the mistakes that can be made on the filings. I will also discuss some of the most valuable tax deductions that can be used for a small business. Hopefully, by this point in the article, you have seen just a small part of the immense value of hiring a tax professional. From here I will lay the things you should be doing throughout the year and in preparation to meet with your tax professional so they can get the most out of your filings and save you money.

 

Common Tax Planning Mistakes That Can Cost a Small Business Owner

After all your hard work throughout the year, it is bad enough that you must fork over large amounts of your income to the IRS in the form of taxes. What is even worse is making some of these common mistakes and seriously overpaying.

One of the biggest and most common mistakes is the misreporting of income. All 1099’s that are sent to you are also sent to the IRS as well. You will not only need to include all income on the tax filing, but you must make sure it is all listed in the correct place. The IRS has a computer system that matches what has been reported to them and what has been reported by you. 

If you fail to report some of your income this system will detect that as well. So, this is not a mistake that you can typically get away with. When this is noticed the IRS will come back and adjust your filing and assess you with penalties and interest for the mistake.

Another common mistake is the overreporting of income. Not all your business income is taxable. With a business, it takes money to make money. When filing your taxes, it is important to utilize allowable deductions to reduce your amount of taxable income

People always like to speak about their gross income instead of their actual profit. Utilizing your business expenses and reducing the taxable income down to your companies’ actual profits can save you thousands of dollars in the taxes you have to pay. 

It is especially important not to mix your personal and business finances. Keeping separate records will make it much easier to track deductible expenses. Also, in the case that the IRS decides to do an examination or an audit, having these separate records is a necessity.

Another big mistake that is made is not tax planning. Sitting down with a tax professional and doing tax planning for the future year that you are in not just dealing with the past year in the tax filing. Setting yourself up with good record-keeping for expenses is one thing that can help you save on your overall tax liability. 

Also setting up estimates with the IRS will help you avoid a surprising and scary bill you may not be able to afford once you file. The last thing you want to do with a business is to start being behind with the IRS. They immediately start accruing penalties and interest if late which can set up a business to overpay on taxes drastically. 

Tax planning also helps you to be prepared to file on time or early rather than waiting for the deadline. If you miss the deadline, you are immediately assessed a late filing penalty that is a percentage of what you owe. Check out the IRS website to see all the different penalties that can cause your business to overpay on taxes. 

These are just a few examples of the mistakes that can be made when it comes to taxes that can be prevented with a good tax professional and some good tax planning. Some of these mistakes seem very easily avoidable but remember as your business grows the more complex the filing becomes and the easier it is to make these types of mistakes. 

In the next section, I will go through some of the most valuable deductions that can be utilized so you do not make the mistake of overpaying your taxes.

 

Valuable Tax Deductions Not to Miss

As I have mentioned, a few major benefits in filing your taxes are utilizing deductions to lower your taxable income. Many people call these write-offs. A tax deduction is an expense that you can deduct from your income to reduce your taxes due

In this section, we will discuss just a few examples of common and valuable deductions. Consult with your tax professional to see which ones you can qualify for from these examples and the many other deductions available.

One quite common deduction that has become even more common since the coronavirus has forced so many to work from home is the home office deduction. If you are self-employed or a business owner, you may qualify for this. If you use this space exclusively for business purposes and this is your primary place of business, you should be able to use this cost as a deduction.  

If you use your vehicle for business purposes, then you should be able to use the car tax deduction. If you have a car purely for business then you can deduct the vehicle’s entire operating cost. If your vehicle is used for both personal and business, you can only deduct the business usage costs. 

These expenses can be calculated in two different ways. You can use the standard mileage rare. This is where you track the miles driven. The other option for vehicle expenses would be the actual expense method. This would be keeping track of your actual expenses such as gas, oil changes, repairs, tires, insurance registration, or lease payments.  

If you spend money on advertising or any other costs to promote your business these are expenses that can be deducted as well. 

If you are someone who loves to wine and dine your clients, you may be able to deduct up to 50% of qualifying food or beverage costs. To be eligible for this deduction the expenses must be an ordinary part of running your business. 

If you need to hire legal representation throughout the course of the year in many circumstances this expense can be deducted. Telephone and internet costs can even be deducted. 

These are just a few of the many different expenses that can be utilized to reduce your taxable income. For more examples of these expenses see this great article in Forbes magazine. 

To take advantage of these and all the other deductions, organization and keeping records is a must. Keeping good records and having all the proper paperwork ready for when you visit your tax preparer will give them the ability to use everything within tax law to save you money. 

Below is a list of documents that you should gather and bring to your visit with your tax professional.

  • A complete and up to date trial balance
  • Records of current year major asset purchases, disposals, or lease arrangements
  • A copy of their 2019 tax return if you didn’t prepare their tax returns last year
  • Any documentation related to federal or state credits being claimed
  • Mileage logs
  • Documentation of federal and state tax payments made
  • Names, addresses, and FEINs of vendors paid that may need 1099-MISC issued
  • Any payments made from their accounts or credit cards that were not recorded in the company records
  • Details of loans and any advances or repayments between the business and owners
  • Annual payroll records
  • Any distributions from equity owners

Mistakes are still going to be made by any business owner but limiting those mistakes and missed opportunities can save a business owner a lot of money. Consulting with a tax professional and being proactive with your tax planning can keep you off the expensive hamster wheel that a lot of business owners find themselves on. 

Also, tax law is constantly changing so having a true tax professional is a must to keep up with new laws that can benefit your business. 

In conclusion, do not be the business owner who is freaking out come tax time. As you see with a lot of work throughout the year and the correct tax professional filing your taxes can be quite easy. You work hard for your money throughout the year, so it only makes these to keep as much of it in your pocket come tax time.