What are tax write-offs? Why are they so significant for business?

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A  tax write-off is a reduction in the gross amount on which a tax is calculated; reduces taxes by the percentage fixed for the taxpayer’s income bracket

Small-business owners need to be tax wise throughout the year, not just during tax season. The following checklist can help you take advantage of all the deductions you’re legally entitled to. Many of these items require special consideration when deducting, so always consult with your accountant when preparing tax forms.

  • Auto expenses. Deductions can be made in one of two ways: either for actual miles driven or for all actual expenses related to business, including gasoline and repair costs.
  • Home office. Work with your tax adviser to determine the percentage of your home that is dedicated to business.
  • Bank charges related to business, including check charges, monthly charges, bank wire fees or overdraft fees.
  • Interest and fees on business debt.
  • Taxes: sales tax on business purchases, real estate tax on business property, employer’s share of employment taxes, excise taxes and, in some instances, state income tax (may be listed as an itemized deduction on federal tax return).
  • Ongoing costs of doing business, including utilities, shipping, office supplies, advertising and marketing (including sponsorships), rental or lease payments (property and equipment), telephone and Internet charges, software licenses, travel expenses, janitorial maintenance, landscaping and grounds maintenance, office/building repairs and equipment repairs.
  • Depreciation (scheduled decline in value of depreciable assets). Consult with your tax adviser to maximize your deductible amounts.
  • Purchase of office equipment and furniture and business vehicles. (Certain percentages can be deducted the year of purchase. This varies for new and used items, so consult with your tax adviser.)
  • Business-insurance premiums.
  • Business gifts.
  • Professional fees (legal, accounting/bookkeeping, architectural, business consulting and marketing consulting).
  • Business-related education, such as seminars, classes, educational tapes or CDs and conventions.
  • Trade-show exhibition and/or attendance, including travel, meals, admission fees and costs of booths/exhibitions.
  • Trade-related journal subscriptions, books and other literature.
  • Retirement contributions. (These can be tricky, so consult with your tax adviser.)
  • Fees paid to credit bureaus, better business bureaus, chambers of commerce and trade associations.
  • Health-insurance premiums.
  • Social Security payments (one-half of payments can be deducted if you’re self-employed).
  • Moving expenses.
  • Charitable contributions.
  • Losses from theft, fraud, business-property/contents damage not covered by insurance.

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