10 tax tips for small businesses

Posted: April 12, 2013

EXCUSE ME for bringing up a bad subject, but Monday is when you pay Uncle Sam what you owe in taxes. And tax experts say too many entrepreneurs often leave legitimate small-business tax deductions on the table. According to online publication Small Business Trends, there are 10 key deductions entrepreneurs should not overlook.

1. Health Care Tax Credit

If you provide insurance to your workers under ObamaCare, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to 35 percent, if certain criteria are met.

2. Business Use of Personal Car

Use your personal vehicle for business purposes? Well, you can write off the business portion of vehicle usage by either deducting actual costs or business mileage based on an IRS-set rate.

3. Business Travel and Entertainment Expenses

You may be able to claim most of the costs of doing business on the road, including transportation, lodging, taxis, 50 percent of business meals and entertainment, and business-related calls.

4. Home Office Deduction

Operate a business out of your home? You may be eligible to claim the home-office deduction. The hitch here is you can only claim it if an area of the home is used exclusively and regularly for business.

5. Start-Up Costs

Start a business in 2012? You can claim up to $5,000 of start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs incurred before you opened your doors.

6. Equipment and Software Purchases

The Section 179 deduction allows you to fully deduct the cost - up to $500,000 - of assets purchased in 2012, including computers, furniture, certain business software, vehicles and manufacturing equipment. There's also a new "Bonus Depreciation" provision. (IRS.gov offers more info about Section 179.)

7. Professional Fees, Training

Any fees associated with training, professional memberships, lawyers, tax professionals or consultants related to costs of doing business are deductible.

8. Moving Costs

If you moved in 2012 as a result of business and your new workplace is at least 50 miles further from your home than your previous workplace, you may be able to deduct certain moving costs on your individual 1040 tax return.

9. Hiring Veterans

Did you hire a military vet in 2012? You may be eligible to claim a tax credit. Under the Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, if you hired a vet who had been unemployed for at least four weeks, you can claim a credit of up to $2,400 on the first $6,000 in wages.

10. Charitable Donations

Charitable donations can qualify as tax deductions against your business' annual tax liability. The contributions may be tax deductible as long as they are not set aside for use by a specific person.

Caveat: For more information, visit IRS.gov. For information specific to your business, always consult with your tax professional. And be sure you have the necessary paperwork to support deductions you claim.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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