Many small business owners have a space inside their homes where they work. These business owners can make certain deductions on their taxes. Remember, there are a few rules from the IRS concerning these write-offs. If you want to know what tax deductions you can take, here are a few points to consider.
The “Exclusive Test”
While you may work out of your home, not all spaces can be claimed as a home office. According to the IRS, you must be able to show that a portion of your home is a principal place of business. You must exclusively use that space to work. If you don’t have a dedicated space in your home, you cannot take the home office deduction. This is known as the “exclusive test” by the IRS.
For example, a spare room in your home can be claimed as a business office and deducted from your taxes. However, you cannot claim a living room or bedroom because those areas are used for personal purposes. There are a few exceptions, such as individuals using their home as a daycare or businesses storing inventory in the home.
You must also be an independent contractor or registered business owner to take the home office deduction. Anyone working from home as a business employee is not eligible for the deduction. The IRS rules about this deduction can be confusing. If you have questions, our small business accounting services can help to address your concerns.
Will These Deductions Cause an Audit?
Some people worry whether taking the home office deduction will cause the IRS to audit their returns. Yes, the IRS does have strict rules, but you will not get an automatic audit with these deductions. There are ways to reduce your chances of an audit.
First, you will want to ensure you qualify for all those deductions. Maintain accurate records of your purchases and expenses. You will want to keep those personal and business expenses separate. The IRS has a system that can detect any red flags. For example, the system will compare your situation with others in your industry. Making higher claims than the average person in the industry could signal a problem with the IRS. Remember that IRS audits are rare, but you should always be prepared with the proper paperwork and documentation for your deductions.
Tax Deduction for a Home-Based Business
Those home office-related deductions are based on the percentage of space that you use for the business. You will need to divide your office’s square footage by your home’s total square footage. With that number, you can deduct the right percentage of each home expense. Sometimes, you can deduct your office’s homeowner’s insurance and association fees, mortgage insurance, and cleaning service. Utilities can also be deducted from your business taxes, including electricity, water, phone, and internet.
If you make upgrades or repairs to the space, then you can write those expenses off. However, the amount of the write-offs will depend on whether the repairs benefitted your office or the entire home. While you may want to deduct every expense for your home office, you really need to hire a professional to look over your business taxes.
Over the years, the IRS has been cracking down on fraudulent deductions. You want to make sure that these deductions are appropriate for your situation.
Other Business Expenses
What else can you deduct from your taxes? There are plenty of standard deductions for other business expenses. For something to be qualified as deductible, that expense must be considered “ordinary and necessary.” What does that mean? The expense must be common and also helpful for your industry. For example, you cannot take a lavish vacation and deduct the expenses, claiming it was a necessary part of your business.
There are some common business expenses for your taxes.
If your business manufactures products or purchases items for resale, then you can deduct the cost of goods sold. You may write off direct labor costs, factory overhead, storage fees, and the cost of the raw products on your taxes.
Capital expenses are the costs that are required to operate your business. There are three types of capital expenses: business assets, improvements, and startup costs.
You may deduct certain car expenses if you use the vehicle as a part of the business. Like the home office write-off, you can deduct a certain percentage of the car’s usage. For example, business owners can calculate the miles driven for business purposes to receive a deduction.
You might be able to deduct rental expenses if you do not own the business property. In some situations, the interest could be deducted if an owner borrowed money for the business. You can also deduct state, local, federal, and foreign taxes from your taxes.
Travel expenses are also eligible, but you can only claim them if you reimburse those costs under an accountable plan. Once again, travel expenses must be related to the business and not for personal use.
Any supplies or materials are deductible from your taxes. Plus, professional services are also considered a business expense. You can write off those fees from a lawyer, bookkeeper, or an accounting firm.
Finally, all of your business development and marketing expenses are eligible for a write-off. These business expenses are used to find and keep clients. With that, you can deduct them from your yearly taxes.
Many people are hesitant to take some deductions off their taxes. The IRS provides detailed explanations of these expenses on their website, which can help you determine what is eligible for a deduction. Completing your taxes can be challenging, especially for small business owners working from home. You may want to find an experienced accountant for your small business to help make the correct deductions on your taxes.
Need a South Jersey Accountant for Your Small Business?
At TMD Accounting, we have over 40 years of helping small businesses in the Gloucester County area. Our team can assist with your taxes, payroll, and bookkeeping needs. When you need a flexible and affordable option, we are here to help. Schedule a consultation by calling us at 856-228-2205.