Common Small Business Tax Deductions
Updated: Aug 18
As a small business owner, you will have lots of expenses. Luckily, there are many deductions you can take to lower the amount of taxes you need to pay. Taking tax deductions on eligible business expenses lowers your taxable income, and in turn, lowers your tax liability.
Here’s a list of things you might already be paying for that may be eligible for a deduction:
You can’t deduct your entire phone bill unless you have a phone designated for business. However, you can deduct a percentage of the bill by determining your business vs. personal use and multiplying the cost of the bill by that percentage.
Classes and educational material purchased to help grow your business including online courses, workshops, books, and subscriptions to industry publications.
This includes gifts for your employees, clients, and customers. However, you can only deduct gifts up to $25 for each person during that tax year.
To claim a home office deduction, you must:
Have a space in your home used exclusively and regularly for business and
It must be the principal place of business or a place you regularly meet with patients, clients, or customers.
There are two ways that you can choose to deduct home office expenses:
Simplified method: Deduct $5 for each square foot of your home that is used for business for a maximum of 300 square feet.
Regular method: Track home expenses such as mortgage, rent, utilities, insurance, repairs, etc. and then multiply those expenses by the percentage of your home that you use for business. If you choose to use this method, you will also need to file Form 8829 with your Schedule C.
Traveling for work includes meeting a client, going to the store to purchase office supplies, attending a business event, etc. However, the commute from home to work is not deductible.
Uber, Lyft, and public transportation rides are deductible as well as mileage, parking, and tolls. The IRS standard mileage rate is 58.5 cents per mile for Jan - Jun 2022 and 62.5 cents per mile for Jul - Dec 2022.
This is a favorite for many business owners. However, it’s important to understand what qualifies and keep good records of business-related meal expenses due to past abuse by taxpayers. Documentation should include:
The amount spent
The business relationship
For meals that cost over $75, you must keep receipts, canceled checks, credit card slips, or any other supporting documents. For meals that cost less than that, you still need to document the items listed above.
Generally, business-related meals are deductible by 50%, including tax and tips. See IRS Publication 463 for exceptions. Notice 2018-76 lays out a five-part test to determine if your meal is eligible for a 50% deduction:
The expense is ordinary and necessary
The meal isn’t lavish or extravagant under the circumstances
You (the taxpayer) or your employee must be present
The food and beverages are for a current or potential customer, client, consultant, or a business contact
The cost of food and beverages during or at an entertainment activity or event must be purchased or documented separately
Temporary 100% deduction for meals from restaurants
Due to COVID-19, the rules on deducting food from restaurants have changed. As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, food and beverages purchased from restaurants will be 100% deductible from December 31, 2020, until January 1, 2023.
Supplies that you need to run your business include:
Electronics such as computers, printers, phones, etc.
Office supplies such as pens, paper, ink, scissors, etc.
Furniture such as desks, chairs, decor, etc.
Purchases and subscriptions for software you use for work, such as Microsoft Office, Google Suite, Adobe Suite, and QuickBooks.
Advertising and Marketing
As a small business, advertising and marketing are crucial to getting your business out there. Luckily, most advertising expenses are deductible. This includes website hosting and design, print and digital ads, and marketing materials such as business cards, brochures, and flyers.
Legal and Professional Services
Hiring help such as an accountant, bookkeeper, attorney, consultant, etc.
Some Business-related Insurance
Business-related insurance includes damaged property, fraud, and theft.
Some Business-Related Interest and Taxes
Interest on business loans or credit cards is deductible. This is only true if it’s business-related. Any interest on personal credit cards or expenses is not eligible for a deduction. Taxes such as payroll tax, excise tax, personal property, and real estate may be deductible.
This is a brief list of some business items you can deduct. For an expense to be deductible, it needs to be necessary and ordinary for your business. If you’re unsure about an expense, ask your accountant or bookkeeper and they should be able to tell you whether you can take a deduction.