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May 1, 2024

Person filling tax form on computer. Reductions, deductions and exemptions. Accountant and financial advise to lower taxation rate.

Commonly Missed Tax Deductions for Business Owners

As we move past another tax season, it’s an ideal time to reflect on the process and plan for the future. Often, business owners realize too late that they missed potential tax deductions that could have significantly lowered their tax bills. Understanding these overlooked opportunities is crucial for better preparation in the next cycle. This article highlights key tax deductions that are particularly valuable for business owners and professionals, aiming to enhance your financial strategy and tax planning.

Why Are Some Tax Deductions Frequently Overlooked? 

Tax deductions are frequently missed due to several factors. The complexity of the tax code, which is both vast and constantly evolving, poses a major challenge for individuals and businesses trying to keep up with eligible deductions. Many are simply unaware of all the deductions they qualify for, potentially leading to significant financial oversights.

Recordkeeping complicates the situation further. Accurate and detailed records are essential for substantiating claims for deductions. Additionally, the fear of triggering an IRS audit deters some taxpayers from claiming deductions they are entitled to, particularly if they are unsure about the required documentation.

Overreliance on tax software can also lead to missed deductions. While tax software often helps identify some of the potential tax deductions, it heavily depends on the accuracy and completeness of the user’s input. Recognizing these issues is the first step in taking proactive measures to avoid them.

Key Tax Deductions for Business Owners

Business Expenses

  • Vehicle and Travel Expenses: Beyond the standard mileage deduction (67 cents per mile for business use in 2024), business interest on vehicle loans, parking fees, and tolls when traveling for business purposes. Keeping detailed records is crucial.
  • Communication and Technology: Internet access fees, computers, and mobile devices are essential for business operations. Portions of these costs are deductible if used predominantly for business, including necessary software and hardware.
  • Office Supplies: Items that help maintain your business environment, such as office decorations and small appliances like a coffee machine, can be deductible.
  • Business Publications: Deductible items include subscriptions to business-related publications, professional, technical, and trade journals, as well as newspapers and certain magazines.

Entertainment and Meals

  • Business Meals: Expenses like coffee, doughnuts, and bagels are deductible when purchased in a business context, such as during office meetings or as part of staff motivation. For 2024, you can deduct 50% of the total cost of qualifying business meals and beverages if they meet specific requirements, including being ordinary and necessary with a clear business connection.
  • Business Entertainment: Deductibility of entertainment expenses is restricted; however, expenses for recreational, social, or similar activities primarily for the benefit of employees, such as golf outings, can still potentially be 100% deductible.

Banking and Financial Fees

  • Interest and Bank Fees: Interest on business credit cards or loans used for business purposes and fees charged for business bank accounts are deductible.

Home Office Deduction

  • Home Office: Self-employed individuals or small business owners who use part of their home regularly and exclusively for business purposes may be eligible for the home office deduction. This applies to both homeowners and renters. The deduction allows for writing off a proportion of mortgage interest, real estate taxes, repairs, insurance, and utilities against business expenses. Calculating this deduction can be based on the area of the home used for business (not to exceed 300 square feet) or more detailed actual expenses. Thorough documentation is essential to substantiate the exclusive business use of the space.

Gifts and Charitable Donations

  • Non-Cash Charity: Donating items like office furniture or computers can provide a deduction based on the fair market value of the items. Always get a receipt and keep a record of the item’s condition.
  • Business Gifts: Small gifts given to clients or employees are deductible up to $25 per person per year.

Educational Expenses

  • Higher Education and Training: Costs related to maintaining or improving required skills for your business or profession can be deductible. This includes tuition, books, supplies, lab fees, and similar items.

What’s Next

This guide offers a glimpse into the many deductions available that could reduce your tax obligations. By being proactive and keeping detailed records, you can maximize your deductions and minimize your tax burden. If you have questions or need assistance in navigating your unique tax situation, contact Wilke CPAs & Advisors for personalized support.

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