Can I file my own business taxes by myself?

Businesses and self-employed taxpayers have many options for filing their taxes.

Filing taxes doesn’t have to be time-consuming. The IRS wants it to be as easy as possible for taxpayers so that they can pay their taxes on time. For business owners and self-employed individuals, e-filing (otherwise known as electronic filing) makes the task simple and efficient.

e-File Options

The various e-file options are on the IRS site. First, you must know under what business entity you will file. Are you filing as a partnership, LLC, S-corporation or another business entity? Each type calls for its own forms.

The IRS e-file forms can all be filled out online. To make the process easier:

  • Gather all the necessary materials to e-file before you sit down at the computer. This includes your corporate EIN or taxpayer EIN, income statements and other financial information.
  • Make sure you have a secure Internet connection.
  • Create your accounts and security questions, if necessary.
  • Complete the forms.
  • Check them for accuracy.
  • Print a copy for your records.
  • If you feel the forms are complete, submit them online.

You will need to create an e-file account. These accounts are free and secure. The first time you use the IRS site, it will take an additional 10-15 minutes to set up your account. It’s a good idea to create a folder on your computer and for your paper-based records to store all of your e-file document copies and other pertinent information. Many companies only use this information quarterly, and it’s easy to forget it after a while, but having a file makes it simpler to remember account numbers and other identifying information.

It’s Free

There is no cost to file your tax information or Social Security or Medicare payments electronically. If you encounter a website that wants to charge you to complete this information, leave immediately. It’s either a phishing scam or an unnecessary expense!

How does the new tax law affect my small business?

December’s tax reform law effectively reduces taxes for many small businesses. It also creates some new complications. Here are the highlights.

Corporate tax rates are cut.

The graduated corporate tax structure has been replaced by a flat rate of 21%. This represents a significant rollback for corporations in the former top 35% bracket. Of particular note to owners of closely-held C corporations: the new law repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax and makes the simpler cash method of accounting available to more corporations.

Owners of “pass-through” entities gain a new deduction.

The legislation creates a new deduction for 20% of business pass-through income. This deduction is available to owners of almost any type of trade or business whose taxable income does not exceed $315,000 (joint return) or $157,500 (other returns). Above those amounts, the deduction is generally limited to the greater of:

  • 50% of W-2 wages paid by the trade or business, or
  • The sum of 25% of W-2 wages paid plus 2.5% of the original cost of tangible, depreciable assets used in the business.

When the business has more than one owner, the owners use their allocated shares of wages and assets in computing the limitations.

Different restrictions apply to individuals in certain service businesses (e.g., law, medicine, and accounting). For those individuals, the ability to take the deduction is reduced with taxable income between $157,500 and $207,500 ($315,000 and $415,000 on a joint return) and is unavailable once taxable income reaches the top of the applicable range.

The taxable income thresholds were adjusted for inflation after 2018, and the 20% deduction is scheduled to expire after the 2025 tax year.

Depreciation and expensing provisions are more generous.

  • Bonus depreciation percentage increases from 50% to 100%. Businesses may deduct the full cost of qualifying property acquired and placed in service after September 27, 2017, and before January 1, 2023 (before January 1, 2024 for certain property). Unlike under prior law, the property does not have to be new — used property can also qualify. Starting in 2023 (2024 for certain property), the deduction is gradually scaled back, and it sunsets after 2026.
  • Section 179 expensing limit increases from $500,000 to $1 million. The law doubles the annual expensing limit and raises the investment threshold over which the deduction begins to phase out to $2.5 million. These new limits were adjusted for inflation after 2018. The new law also makes the Section 179 expensing election available for more types of property, including certain improvements to nonresidential real property.
  • Auto depreciation limits increase more than threefold. The new annual caps are generally effective for business autos placed in service after 2017.

Other changes could have an impact.

  • The deduction for business entertainment expenses is repealed, effective for expenses paid or incurred after 2017.
  • The costs of certain employer-provided transportation fringe benefits, such as transit passes, are no longer deductible, also effective for expenses paid or incurred after 2017.
  • For the 2018 and 2019 tax years, employers that provide paid family and medical leave may claim a credit for a portion of the expense (requirements apply).
  • The domestic production activities deduction is repealed, effective for 2018 and later tax years.

These are just highlights of some of the changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Please consult a qualified tax advisor for more detailed information about how the law’s provisions may apply to your business and personal tax situation.

Source/Disclaimer:

This communication is not intended to be tax advice and should not be treated as such. You should contact your tax professional to discuss your specific situation.

What business start up costs are deductible?

Launching a new business takes hard work — and money. Costs for market surveys, travel to line up potential distributors and suppliers, advertising, hiring employees, training, and other expenses incurred before a business is officially launched can add up to a substantial amount.

The tax law places certain limitations on tax deductions for start-up expenses.

  • No deduction is available until the business becomes active.
  • Up to $5,000 of accumulated start-up expenses may be deducted in the tax year in which the active business begins. This $5,000 limit is reduced (but not below zero) by the excess of total start-up costs over $50,000.
  • Any remaining start-up expenses may be deducted ratably over the 180-month period beginning with the month in which the active business begins.

Example: Brooke spent $20,000 on start-up costs before her new business began on July 1, 2019. In 2019, she may deduct $5,000 and the portion of the remaining $15,000 allocable to July through December of 2019 ($15,000/180 × 6 = $500), a total of $5,500. The remaining $14,500 may be deducted ratably over the remaining 174 months.

Instead of deducting start-up costs, a business may elect to capitalize them (treat them as an asset on the balance sheet). Deductions for “organization expenses” — such as legal and accounting fees for services related to forming a corporation or partnership — are subject to similar rules.

Do you drive your car for business purposes?

Do you drive your car for business purposes? The costs of operating and maintaining your vehicle are potentially deductible. Here are some guidelines.

Two Methods

The IRS provides two basic methods for computing deductions for the business use of an automobile.

Actual expense method. With the actual expense method, you deduct the actual costs of operation, including licenses, registration fees, garage rent, repairs, gas, oil, tolls, and insurance. Additionally, you may claim depreciation deductions (and/or elect expensing under Section 179). If the car is leased, you deduct your lease payments rather than depreciation. (Certain limits apply.)

Standard mileage rate. Alternatively, you may choose to use an IRS-provided standard mileage rate. With this method, you multiply the number of business miles you drive during the year by the applicable rate (58¢ per mile for 2019). When you use the standard mileage rate, you don’t separately deduct expenses such as gasoline, oil, insurance, repairs and maintenance, depreciation, or lease payments. However, business-related parking fees and tolls are separately deductible.

Which Should You Use?

Generally, you will want to use the method that produces the largest deduction. If your vehicle is costly to own and operate, the actual expense method may be more advantageous. Conversely, if your vehicle is fuel efficient and/or inexpensive, the simpler standard mileage rate method may be a better choice.

With either method, the IRS requires that you keep records that substantiate your business use of the car: the date, place, business purpose, and number of miles you travel. When you use the actual expense method, you’ll also need records substantiating the amount and date of car-related expenditures. You can avoid having to retain receipts by using the standard mileage rate.

If you decide to use the standard mileage rate for a car you own, you may switch to the actual expense method in a later year. However, you won’t be able to claim accelerated depreciation deductions for the car. With a leased car, you have less flexibility. If you choose the standard mileage rate the first year, you must use it for the entire lease period.

Personal and Business Use

If you use your car for both personal and business purposes, you must keep track of your mileage for each purpose. To figure the percentage of qualified business use, you divide the business mileage by the total mileage driven. Then multiply that percentage by your total expenses.

Do you have a Business Plan? Let Me Tell You Why You Need One

I know, doesn’t sound like much fun right? It is a bit tedious and takes some dedicated time. You may even think it isn’t really needed. BUT you are WRONG. 

Your business will not reach its full potential if you don’t know where you are headed. You need to have your business goals written down so you can see where you are headed and how far you have come.

Watch this short video clip I made for you to explain exactly why a written business plan is SO IMPORTANT.

 

This has been a brief overview.  If you need more help with your business plan, doing a quick search on the Internet will bring up several ideas and templates to use. There are plenty of real life examples available. Here are a few resources to get you started:

SBA Business Plan Webinar – 8 Part Video

FREE Small Business Planning Templates

SBA’s Business Plan Tool – Step by Step guide that walks you through it

Remember, if you are truly determined to build a successful business then you MUST have a business plan written and in place to help you measure that success.

Do you have a business plan in writing?  Let me know in the comment section below.