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Mastering Small Business Tax Savings: A Comprehensive Guide for Owners in 2023 & 2024

Updated: Apr 8


A comprehensive guide for owners 2023 and 2024
Mastering Small Business Tax Savings with Client Business Advisors

Navigating the maze of small business taxes can seem intimidating, but understanding the essentials can transform it from a headache into a strategic advantage. Today, we delve into the 4 vital components of tax planning and management, offering clear insights into maximizing deductions, leveraging tax credits and planning ahead for tax season. But first, let’s review some of the basics!


1. Grasp the Basics of Business Finance

Understanding your business's financial terms is the first step to managing taxes effectively. Terms like revenue, cost of goods sold, gross profit, and net sales are essential. They help you track how much money you’re making and spending, which is critical for tax preparation​.

Here's what each term means:


  • Revenue: This is the total amount of money your business earns from its activities, like selling products or services, before any expenses are subtracted.

  • Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): These are the direct costs attributable to the production of the goods sold by your business. This includes the cost of the materials and labor directly used to create the product.

  • Gross Profit: This is calculated by subtracting the COGS from the revenue. It represents the profit your business makes after deducting the costs directly associated with producing and selling your products but before subtracting overhead, payroll, taxation, and interest payments.

  • Net Sales: This is the amount of sales generated by a company after the deduction of returns, allowances for damaged or missing goods, and discounts. It represents the actual sales revenue that contributes to your business income.

These financial metrics are essential for tax preparation because they provide a clear picture of your business's financial performance, helping to determine the tax liability. Understanding these terms allows you to accurately report your income and expenses, leading to a more effective tax strategy and potentially lower tax bills.


Tax credits for Small Business Owners
Maximizing Tax Deductions

2. SMALL BUSINESS TAX SAVINGS: Maximize Your Deductions and Credits

Maximizing deductions and credits is a strategic approach to reduce your tax liability. Here's a more in-depth explanation with 25 Small Business Tax Saving Deductions:


Deductions

For small business owners preparing for tax season 2023, there are numerous deductions to consider, which can significantly reduce your tax bill. Here are some key deductions to be aware of:


  1. Advertising and marketing: These costs can include a wide range of activities aimed at promoting your business and its products or services. Deductible advertising and marketing expenses can include traditional advertising costs like newspaper, radio, and television ads, as well as online advertising such as pay-per-click ads, social media marketing, and website maintenance. Costs related to the creation of promotional materials, branding, hiring marketing consultants, and conducting market research are also deductible.

  2. Software subscriptions: If you subscribe to software services used exclusively for your business, like QuickBooks accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, project management apps, or any other software essential for your business operations, these costs are generally deductible.

  3. Office Supplies: These include items like pens, paper, ink, notebooks, and other supplies used in the day-to-day operations of a business. These costs are typically considered ordinary and necessary for running a business and are fully deductible in the year they are purchased.

  4. Office Furniture: Items like desks, chairs, shelves, and filing cabinets can also be deducted. However, because furniture is considered a long-term asset, it may need to be depreciated over its useful life, meaning the deduction is spread out over several years. Under certain conditions, small businesses may opt to deduct the full cost of some furniture in one year under Section 179 of the IRS code, which allows for the immediate expense of assets​.

  5. Business Meal Expenses: For 2023, the business meal expenses deduction has reverted to the pre-pandemic rule, allowing a 50% deduction for business-related meals. This deduction applies as long as the meals are not considered extravagant, are directly related to the business, and the taxpayer or an employee is present at the meal. 

  6. Work-Related Travel Expenses: Transportation: Costs of traveling by airplane, train, bus, or car between your home and your business destination. Lodging: Hotel or motel costs when traveling for business. Meals: 50% of the cost of meals during business travel (subject to change based on specific tax year regulations). Incidental Expenses: Other costs related to business travel such as baggage fees, tips, and taxis

  7. Vehicle Expenses: Standard Mileage Rate: Businesses can deduct a standard amount per mile driven for business purposes. For 2023, the standard mileage rate was 65.5 cents per mile. For 2024, the standard mileage rate set by the IRS for the use of a car (including vans, pickups, and panel trucks) for business purposes is 67 cents per mile. This rate covers not only gas but also depreciation, maintenance, insurance, and other vehicle-related costs. Actual Expenses: Alternatively, businesses can deduct the actual costs of using a vehicle for business purposes. This includes gas, oil, repairs, insurance, depreciation, lease payments, and other vehicle-related expenses. 

  8. Utilities: These utilities include water, electricity, gas, trash removal, and internet and telephone services. Utilities used in the business premises are fully deductible as business expenses. This includes utilities for an office, store, warehouse, or other facilities where the business operations occur​.

  9. Leasing Property: This includes office space, retail locations, warehouses, or any other property rented for business operations. Rent paid for business property is fully deductible as a business expense. 

  10. Inventory: Inventory deductions involve deducting the cost of goods sold (COGS), which includes all costs necessary to make or buy the products that a company sells. Expenses included in COGS can consist of the cost of products or raw materials, storage, direct labor costs (for those producing the products), and factory overhead.

  11. Home Office Deductions: For those using part of their home for business, a deduction based on the square footage used exclusively for business activities is available​. For instance, if your home office occupies 10% of your home’s total space, you can deduct 10% of your utility bills as business expenses. However, specific rules must be followed to qualify for a home office deduction, and the space must be used regularly and exclusively for business.

  12. Insurance: Insurance deductions allow for the costs of various types of insurance related to business operations to be deducted from taxable income. Types of Deductible Insurance: Property Insurance: Covers damage or loss to business property, including offices, buildings, and contents. Liability Insurance: Protects against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people or property. Workers' Compensation Insurance: Mandatory in many places, it covers employees who get injured on the job. Health Insurance: Premiums for health insurance for employees, and in some cases, the self-employed owner, can be deductible. Auto Insurance: For vehicles used for business purposes. Business Interruption Insurance: Covers lost income and expenses resulting from covered disruptions to business operations. Malpractice Insurance: Particularly for those in professions where malpractice insurance is necessary, such as in medical, legal, and accounting fields, this protects professionals against claims of negligence or malpractice and is considered an ordinary and necessary business expense.

  13. Legal, and Professional Fees: Legal and professional fees incurred in the operation of a business are generally deductible. This includes payments for services like legal advice, accounting, bookkeeping, consulting, and other professional services necessary for the business. 

  14. Renting Equipment and Machinery:  Rent paid for the use of equipment or machinery necessary for business operations is fully deductible as a business expense. This includes payments for leasing production machinery, office equipment, vehicles, or any other equipment used for business purposes. The deduction is taken in the year the rent is paid, and it's important to have clear lease agreements and maintain accurate records of these payments to substantiate the deductions.

  15. Depreciation on Equipment and Machinery: Depreciation allows businesses to spread the cost of tangible assets like equipment and machinery over their useful life, reflecting the wear and tear, deterioration, or obsolescence of the asset. Businesses can deduct a portion of the asset's cost each year, reducing taxable income over several years.

  16. Salaries: Salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, and other forms of compensation paid to employees are deductible business expenses as long as they are reasonable, paid for services rendered, and are an ordinary and necessary expense of running the business.

  17.  Employee Benefits:  Health Insurance: Premiums paid by a business for employee health insurance are deductible. This can include medical, dental, and vision insurance plans. Retirement Plans: Contributions made by a business to retirement plans on behalf of employees, such as 401(k), SEP IRA, or SIMPLE IRA plans, are deductible business expenses Education Assistance: Expenses for employee education and training programs can be deductible, provided they are related to their job or business operations. Child Care Assistance: Some businesses offer child care assistance or on-site childcare services, which can be deductible under certain conditions. Other Benefits: Other employee benefits like life insurance, disability insurance, and transportation benefits can also be deductible.

  18. Contracted Labor: Payments made to contracted labor, often referred to as independent contractors or freelancers, are also deductible business expenses. The amount paid to independent contractors for services rendered to your business can be deducted as a business expense. This can include fees for consultants, freelance professionals, or any non-employee labor hired to perform specific tasks or projects for the business. Businesses are required to file Form 1099-NEC for each person to whom they have paid at least $600 during the year for services rendered. 

  19. Educational Expenses: Educational expenses related to business operations, such as training courses, workshops, and seminars that improve or maintain professional skills, are generally deductible. 

  20. Interest and Bank Fees: Interest on business loans and credit lines, as well as bank fees related to business accounts, are generally deductible business expenses. Interest must be paid on borrowed funds used for business activities, and bank fees must be incurred in the course of operating a business. This can include service charges, account maintenance fees, and transaction fees.

  21. Charitable Contributions: Charitable contributions made by a business can be deductible. For sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations, the deduction is typically claimed on the individual owner’s tax return. C corporations can deduct charitable contributions directly on the business tax return. The deduction is subject to various limitations, depending on the type of charity and the contribution's nature. 

  22. Gifts: Small businesses can deduct the cost of gifts given in the course of their business up to a maximum of $25 per person per year. This limit applies to both direct and indirect gifts to an individual.

  23. Startup Costs: Startup costs for a new business, including expenses for market research, training, legal fees, and advertising, are generally deductible. The IRS allows up to $5,000 of startup costs to be deducted in the year the business begins, with the remainder amortizable over 15 years. However, if total startup costs exceed $50,000, the deduction limit decreases.

  24. Bad Debt: Bad debt is money owed to a business that is no longer expected to be paid. It can arise from credit sales to customers, loans to clients or suppliers, or business loan guarantees. Accrual Basis Accounting: Generally, only businesses using accrual basis accounting can deduct bad debts, as they recognize income when it is earned, not when it is received. If a customer fails to pay an invoice, the amount is considered a bad debt and can be deducted.

  25. Taxes:  Federal, State, and Local Taxes: Taxes like state and local income taxes, real estate taxes, and personal property taxes related to business assets are generally deductible as business expenses. Sales Taxes: If you collect and remit sales tax to a state or local government, these amounts are not deductible since they are collected from customers and passed through to the tax authorities. However, sales taxes paid on business purchases can be deductible. Employer Taxes: The business portion of payroll taxes, including Social Security (FICA), Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), and state unemployment taxes, are deductible business expenses. These are considered costs of employing staff and are fully deductible in the year they are paid.



Credits

Tax credits are direct reductions in tax liability, not just deductions from income. They can be more beneficial than deductions because they reduce tax dollar-for-dollar. Common business tax credits include the Research and Development (R&D) Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), and Energy Efficiency Credits. Each credit has specific eligibility criteria and rules. Utilizing tax credits can significantly lower a business’s overall tax burden, so it’s important to identify any credits for which the business qualifies and maintain documentation to support the claim.


To find a comprehensive list of small business tax deductions for 2023 and 2024, the IRS website is the primary resource. They provide detailed guides and publications that outline the various deductions and credits available to small businesses. Key resources include:

  • Publication 334 (Tax Guide for Small Business), which offers guidance on federal taxes, forms to file, how to handle business income and expenses, and what deductions can be made on a tax return​ (IRS)​.

  • The Guide to Business Expense Resources, which helps business owners understand which expenses are deductible and how to properly document them​ (IRS)​.

  • The Small Businesses and Self-Employed Tax Center, providing a wealth of information tailored for small business tax needs, including how to file taxes, manage payments, and understand credits and deductions​ (IRS)​.


Claiming Deductions

The deductions discussed can be claimed by various types of business structures, including sole proprietorships, C-corporations, S-corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs). However, the specific rules and limitations for these deductions can vary depending on the business structure.


  • Sole Proprietorships: Report their business income and expenses, including deductions, on Schedule C of their personal income tax return.

  • C-Corporations: They are separate tax entities and report deductions on their corporate tax returns, potentially under different rules, especially concerning dividends and corporate tax rates.

  • S-Corporations: Pass income and deductions through to shareholders who report them on their personal tax returns, subject to certain limitations and basic rules.

  • Partnerships: Similar to S-corporations, they pass through income and deductions to the partners, who then report them on their individual returns.

  • LLCs: Depending on how they're taxed (as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation), the rules for deductions will follow the corresponding entity type.

It's important for business owners to understand how their business structure impacts their tax reporting and eligibility for certain deductions.


3. As a best practice, Plan Ahead for Tax Season

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about taxes. Start planning around mid-November to assess your tax situation and avoid end-of-year rushes. Regularly reviewing your financial records can help catch potential issues early, leading to a smoother tax filing process​. If this sounds daunting, consider enlisting professional bookkeeping services to help manage your finances. Our team specializes in preparing small businesses for tax season, ensuring that your books are accurate and up-to-date. With our expert support, you can navigate tax season confidently and possibly discover savings you might have overlooked. Let us take the stress out of tax preparation, allowing you to focus on running your business effectively. You can book a free consultation here. 


4. Keep Accurate Records

Accurate record-keeping throughout the year is crucial. Consider using automation software to connect your sales channels or payment platforms with your accounting records, which can save time and reduce errors​. Keeping meticulous documentation is key to running your business like a well-oiled machine.


Hence, mastering the art of small business taxes isn't just about meeting legal obligations—it's about seizing opportunities to enhance your financial success. By embracing strategic planning, diligent record-keeping, and proactive tax management, you can unlock significant savings and establish a robust foundation for your business's future. Remember, staying informed and consulting with tax professionals can turn the tide of tax season from a challenge into a victory for your business. Armed with the knowledge from this guide, you're ready to tackle your taxes with efficiency and savvy, steering your business toward sustained growth and profitability.


Hope you enjoyed this guide and make sure to follow us for more!


By:: Yanitza Reyna




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