Business expenses are the cost of carrying on a trade or business, and there may be some tax breaks there. But a lot has changed in recent months, and the rules can be complicated.
Are there business deductions you can take advantage of? Yes, but first you have to make sure your expenses are truly business-related. The lines can blur, especially with a small business, because you generally cannot deduct personal, living or family expenses. However, if you have an expense for something that is used partly for business and partly for personal purposes, divide the total cost between the business and personal parts, and then deduct the business part.
An example: You borrow money and use 70% of it for business and the other 30% for a family vacation. You can deduct 70% of the interest as a business expense. The remaining 30% is personal interest and isn’t deductible.
Let’s look at business use of your car and your home:
- Business use of your car: If you use your car in your business, you can deduct car expenses. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you must divide your expenses based on actual mileage.
- Business use of your home: If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. These expenses include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation.
Other types of business expenses? Let’s take a closer look:
- Employees’ pay: You can generally deduct the pay you give your employees for the services they perform for your business.
- Retirement plans: These are savings plans that offer you tax advantages to set aside money for your own, and your employees’, retirements.
- Rent expense: Rent is any amount you pay for the use of property you don’t own. In general, you can deduct rent as an expense only if the rent is for property you use in your trade or business. If you have or will receive equity in or title to the property, the rent is not deductible.
- Interest: Business interest expense is an amount charged for the use of money you borrowed for business activities.
- Taxes: You can deduct various federal, state, local and foreign taxes directly attributable to your trade or business as business expenses.
- Insurance: Generally, you can deduct the ordinary and necessary cost of insurance as a business expense, if it is for your trade, business or profession.
This list is not inclusive but endeavors to offer some common business expenses and explains what is and isn’t deductible. Of course, in some cases, expenses might need to be amortized — deducted over a period of several years — if they are startup costs or if they’re related to the purchase of business equipment.
You must capitalize, rather than deduct, some costs that are part of your investment in your business — these are called capital expenses. Capital expenses are considered assets in your business.
Of course, some business deductions can be very complex, so professional advice is necessary to make sure you’re getting what you’re owed without raising any red flags with the IRS. We’re here to help you with your business tax needs.