THAT’S Not Deductible
In a recent survey, CPAs were asked what were the most outrageous business expense tax deductions clients tried to take on their tax returns. Some of these are real head-shakers.
We all like to look nice, especially for business purposes. But you’re expected to arrive to work fully clothed (looking nice is a bonus).
Gambling losses don’t qualify as a charitable donation to casinos or the state lottery.
One client wanted to depreciate the cost of a large boat because it was used occasionally for client entertainment.
So What Is Deductible?
Business expenses are the cost of carrying on a trade or business. These expenses are usually deductible if the business operates to make a profit.
To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.
It is important to separate business expenses from the following expenses:
The expenses used to figure the cost of goods sold,
Capital Expenses, and
Cost of Goods Sold
If your business manufactures products or purchases them for resale, you generally must value inventory at the beginning and end of each tax year to determine your cost of goods sold. Some of your expenses may be included in figuring the cost of goods sold. The cost of goods sold is deducted from your gross receipts to figure your gross profit for the year. If you include an expense in the cost of goods sold, you cannot deduct it again as a business expense.
The following are types of expenses that go into figuring the cost of goods sold.
- The cost of products or raw materials, including freight
- Direct labor costs (including contributions to pensions or annuity plans) for workers who produce the products
- Factory overhead
Under the uniform capitalization rules, you must capitalize the direct costs and part of the indirect costs for certain production or resale activities. Indirect costs include rent, interest, taxes, storage, purchasing, processing, repackaging, handling, and administrative costs.
This rule does not apply to personal property you acquire for resale if your average annual gross receipts (or those of your predecessor) for the preceding 3 tax years are not more than $10 million.
You must capitalize, rather than deduct, some costs. These costs are a part of your investment in your business and are called capital expenses. Capital expenses are considered assets in your business. In general, there are three types of costs you capitalize.
Business start-up cost (You can elect to deduct or amortize certain business start-up costs)
Personal versus Business Expenses
Generally, you cannot deduct personal, living, or family expenses. However, if you have an expense for something that is used partly for business and partly for personal purposes, divide the total cost between the business and personal parts. You can deduct the business part.
For example, if you borrow money and use 70% of it for business and the other 30% for a family vacation, you can deduct 70% of the interest as a business expense. The remaining 30% is personal interest and is not deductible.
Business Use of Your Home
If you use part of your home for business, you may be able to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. These expenses may include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, and depreciation.
Business Use of Your Car
If you use your car in your business, you can deduct car expenses. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you must divide your expenses based on actual mileage.
Other Types of Business Expenses
Employees' Pay: You can generally deduct the pay you give your employees for the services they perform for your business.
Retirement Plans: Retirement plans are savings plans that offer you tax advantages to set aside money for your own, and your employees' retirement.
Rent Expense: Rent is any amount you pay for the use of property you do not own. In general, you can deduct rent as an expense only if the rent is for property you use in your trade or business. If you have or will receive equity in or title to the property, the rent is not deductible.
Interest: Business interest expense is an amount charged for the use of money you borrowed for business activities.
Taxes: You can deduct various federal, state, local, and foreign taxes directly attributable to your trade or business as business expenses.
Insurance: Generally, you can deduct the ordinary and necessary cost of insurance as a business expense, if it is for your trade, business, or profession.
How do you know whether an expense is deductible or not? Ask your Cole Gavlas tax consultant. It’s our business to know business deductions.