It’s that time of year again – tax season. As a small business owner, there are a number of unique considerations that you must account for while preparing to file. To make things a little easier, we’ve pulled together some best practices and small business tax preparation tips below.
First you need to gather the appropriate documentation reports and transaction lists. It’s always wise to keep close track of all expenses incurred throughout the year so that come tax time gathering the information you need won’t be a time-consuming hassle. This can be done a number of ways, whether it’s in a spreadsheet or within a software program. The more you keep track of, the more you can claim as deductions.
The IRS determines what items can and cannot be deducted for your small business taxes. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Home Office – If you work primarily out of your home, you may be able to claim some or all of the area in which you conduct your business activities. Keep in mind, however, that in order to qualify as a small business deduction, the space you’re claiming must be devoted solely to your business. To determine the percentage you are allowed to claim, measure your office area and divide the results by the total square footage of your home.
- Office Supplies and Furniture – Many of the supplies that you use in the operation of your small business can be deducted as an expense on your taxes. Furniture is a bit trickier, as there is depreciation to take into consideration. A qualified tax professional can explain your options and help you determine which, if any, make sense for your business.
- Mileage – The distance you travel in the course of conducting business transactions may be deductible, along with other local travel-related expenses, such as tolls. Again, this can become a bit tricky, as it ultimately depends on your starting point and other criteria. For example, if your office is located in your home, you can start tracking mileage right from there. If your office is located elsewhere, you can only claim the mileage you travel from that starting point to your destinations.
- Business Travel Expenses – The money you spend while traveling for business purposes, such as paying for a hotel room, airfare and renting a vehicle can all be deducted on your small business taxes provided you have proper documentation. Additionally, a portion (50%) of your meal costs while traveling may also be deductible.
- Insurance Premiums – The price of small business insurance premiums might be deductible if you are self-employed. Again, sitting down with a tax advisor is recommended to ensure compliance, and that you are availing yourself of all the deductions that you are entitled to.
Next, in order to file correctly with the government, you will need to make sure you complete and file the correct forms. Otherwise, you could end up delaying the process or missing out on available deductions. The type of form you need depends mainly on what you’re claiming as well as the type of business you own. For example, sole proprietors must attach a Schedule C to their personal income tax returns. For LLC and incorporations, there is additional paperwork required and forms must be filed separately from personal taxes.
Finally, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the filing deadlines for specific forms. A few of the dates to be aware of for small business tax filings are as follows:
- Schedule C must be turned in by the typical April 15th deadline.
- Form 1120 must be filed by the 15th day of the third month, which is typically March 15. You can’t include this with your personal income tax forms.
For more information on how to do your taxes as a small business, check out these instructional videos from the IRS or schedule an appointment with a tax professional that specializes in small business taxes.