Most businesses end up cutting into profits simply by not taking advantage of the rules the IRS has laid out for them. The most susceptible to this common downfall is the sole proprietor or single-member LLC. These types of businesses frequently do business from home and employ the work of friends and family. Such practices can net huge savings through deductions outlined by the IRS.
The first thing to understand is how the IRS tax system works. Your single member LLC business is taxed as a sole proprietorship which requires a Schedule C to be prepared and attached to your Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return.
All the business income and deductible expenses each year will be reported on the Schedule C. To the extent there is any net income left on the bottom line of the Schedule C, it will be carried over to the first page of the 1040 Form subject to your marginal income tax (about 20 to 35%) and self-employment Social Security and Medicare contributions (15.3%). Therefore, you can save up to 50 cents on every dollar of business income through deductible expenses. This is the reason to keep a good and separate record of all business income and expenses right from the beginning so that it will be easier to prepare an accurate Schedule C each year.
The first thing to do is open a separate bank account for your one member LLC into which to deposit your business income and out of which to pay your business expenses. This will give you record of all business income and expenses for your tax records.
There are obvious deductible expenses which you will pay out of the LLC bank account such as promotional materials and postage, food and beverage at showings, cost to send, exchange or return merchandise. Most entrepreneurs utilize these clearly recognizable deductions.
However, the real savings for your company lies in the fine print – the hidden deductions. To be clear, the use of these deductions is permissible. The IRS established these rules to make tax records for home businesses simpler for both parties – you and the IRS. The not-so-obvious deductions for business expenses, which you can take as deductions on the Schedule C and reimburse yourself by writing checks to yourself out of the business bank account, can save huge on costs.
- If you operate your business from your home, the IRS allows a standard $1500 home-office deduction so that you don’t have to itemize it.
- The IRS allows you to reimburse yourself at a standard mileage rate of 54 cents per mile for the business use of your car without having to itemize gas, insurance, depreciation, and maintenance.
- If you use your cell phone for business as well as personal use, you can deduct that monthly charge for your cell phone line. In addition, for those who share a plan with a partner, you would be able to deduct half the monthly cost from the phone bill.
- Any promotional events at your house or elsewhere are deductible including the cost of food, beverage and/or room rent.
- You can also deduct the subscription cost or out of pocket per issue costs for magazines applicable to your business, such as a fashion business staying up to date on latest fashion trends for a business selling clothing.
- Any licensing fees to conduct your business are deductible.
- Anyone you pay to assist you is deductible as well. You are allowed to pay your family or children for helping you carry things for you for shows, meetings, or other public events. The added benefit of teaching kids to work for their own money also encourages good “work ethic”.
Using all the tax-saving resources can really help small business net more profit, which can either be reinvested into the company or be used as extra income for yourself. There is nothing wrong with saving money, especially when it’s simply by following the rules strictly.