I have always believed that starting a home business is the best tax planning strategy and because the biggest expense in our lifetime is the income taxes we pay, thus the best way to get ahead in life.
If you are an entrepreneur operating from your home, don’t be shy to claim the rightful tax deductions you are entitled to. While this article is specific to the United States tax code, most income taxing jurisdictions follow the same general theme, favoring businesses over individuals from a taxing perspective.
If you are a blogger, internet marketer or an online business owner of any sort and work out of your home for at least part of the year, consider taking advantage of the tax benefits for starting a home business.
This article is also inspired by a woman’s story I read in a magazine yesterday while getting my hair cut. In the story, the woman opted to start a home based babysitting business so she could raise her daughter and not have to send her to a day care.
Here are some of the ways how starting a home business led to significant tax advantages for her family:
Most business owners, part time or full time are afraid of taking this deduction because they fear being audited by the IRS. That is rubbish. Make sure you take this deduction if you are starting a home business.
First of all, merely claiming a home office deduction is not a red flag in itself. Second, even if it was, what do you have to be afraid of? I have been audited by the IRS multiple times. I have never had to pay additional taxes, fees or penalties. In fact, I ended up getting more money back on two occasions, plus an apology for wasting my valuable time.
When you are operating a home business, you are entitled to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage payment, as well as other bills that pertain to operating your home such as security systems, phone bills, cable TV, yard maintenance, property taxes, etc.
When you have a home based business, you can take advantage of medical expense deductions through a reimbursement plan adopted by your business.
Most medical expenses such as cosmetic treatments, braces and LASIK surgery fall under the “non reimbursable medical expense” category. Not if you operate a home business however.
With a medical expense reimbursement plan, you can employ your spouse and their children (therefore your children) and cover expenses like braces, LASIK and routine purchases at the local CVS or Wallgreens pharmacy.
You can read more about taking advantage of the medical expense deduction that is available to you when starting a home business.
Usage of your personal vehicle for your home business related tasks is also fully deductible under the tax code. When you use your vehicle for business, such as picking up and dropping off people or stuff, or making business related purchases, meeting clients for lunches, you qualify for the vehicle deduction when filing your taxes.
You can either claim the deduction by stating the miles drive attributed to business use, or actual expenses incurred as part of doing business. The prior is the easier method which most people opt for, but make sure you optimize your vehicle deduction as much as possible by analyzing actual costs. Many people leave far too much money on the table by opting for the easier route.
Meals, entertainment and travel expenses incurred in the name of business are also deductible. Starting a home business doesn’t mean you are always at home. For example, if you took a family trip (say a vacation) somewhere exotic and decided to spend a few hours conducting business, you can officially deduct a part or all of your trip’s expenses as a business expense.
Meals and entertainment expenses picked up while in transit during business hours, or wining and dining clients are also deductible. Make sure to keep all your receipts. Better yet, use one credit card for all business related expenses.
A typical W2 employee can usually stash retirement cash away in a 401k plan and an IRA (Individual Retirement Account). The limit for each as of the time of this post is $16,000+ and $5,000 per year.
As a home business owner, you are entitled to a more aggressive deferred tax plan such as the SEP plan. As of the time of this post, you are allowed to pump up to $46,000 into that account. Oh yeah!
One of the most interesting benefits of operating a home based business in my opinion are the ancillary savings that result from you simply operating from home as opposed to driving to an office space to work.
For example, if you have children, you may be able to save on day care expenses, which is the largest expense after rent for many families. In some cases, it is just as much if not more than the rent they pay! You save on gasoline bills. You depreciate your car less. If your route involves toll charges and parking at work, you get to avoid all those, and then some.
You don’t have dry cleaning bills because you no longer have to wear that freshly cleaned and steam ironed shirt to work. You avoid spending 200% more on lunches because you have to dine out. Can you think of more collateral benefits of simply working from home?
I understand that these benefits pertain specifically to those who primarily own their own business. However, thes advantages of a starting a home business apply to those working full time and running a side business (read why you should!) at the same time as well. That said, all of the above are just a handful of benefits of operating your own business. There is a lot more to it that is well worth looking into.
Although the example in this article is specific to babysitting, it really applies to any home business. For example, this can apply to tutoring, data entry, transcribing, bookkeeping, blogging, Internet marketing and all sorts of other home based businesses.
This post also further reinforces why owning a side business is the best tax planning strategy, and yet one which a majority of Americans either don’t know about, understand or don’t act upon (some just don’t want to for various reasons).
Readers: Are you taking legal advantage of the tax code? Or are you giving away more than half your income away to uncle Sam? How do you file your taxes? Do you hire a CPA? As entrepreneurs who work from home, do you feel you need more guidance or assistance in ensuring that you are maximizing your tax benefits and legally paying the least amount in income taxes?Previous: How to Publish an eBook and Profit From It – The Final Conclusion