The Dos and Don’ts of Charitable Tax Deductions for Small Businesses

The Dos and Don’ts of Charitable Tax Deductions for Small Businesses

Tax season is underway for businesses across the country, which means it’s time to start thinking about any charitable tax deductions for small businesses you’ve made that can reduce your tax burden. One of the most commonly claimed deductions is for charitable donations — about 75% of small business owners allocate a portion of their profits to charitable donations. There are many reasons to support charities beyond tax savings. Giving back reminds business owners that they can make a positive change in the world, and it’s also great for a company’s overall reputation. Learn how to go about smart small business charitable giving before you take action.

Do: Find a cause that aligns with your business

While it’s great to donate to any cause you’re passionate about, there are extra benefits to donating to charities that align with or relate to your business. For example, if your company sells the majority of its products for mothers, it makes more sense to donate to a breast cancer charity than one for disaster relief. Your customers choose your business for a reason, and donating to causes they’re likely to care about is bound to get them excited.

Don’t: Fall for a scam

Unfortunately, there are plenty of charities that masquerade as good causes, when they’re actually scamming good-hearted people, so it’s important to do your research before you give any organization your money. Even with legitimate charities, the majority of your contribution may be going directly to administrative, overhead and marketing costs rather than what is advertised. You can find out if a charity is valid and how your money is allocated by specific charities on Charity Navigator.

Do: Decide how you can help

There are a variety of ways to support causes beyond one-time monetary donations. Volunteer work, event sponsorships, fundraising and donating goods are all ways to make an impact. Each type of contribution must be recorded and filed differently, so it’s worth working with an accountant to ensure you get the proper tax deduction. The type of charitable work you should do largely depends on time commitments, the enthusiasm of your employees to participate and budgetary considerations. Don’t overcommit yourself — it’s not worth the headache.

Don’t: Forget to involve employees

If you’re unsure what type of charity makes sense for your business, it’s a good idea to ask your employees what they think is a worthwhile endeavor. If they care about a certain cause, they are more likely to feel enthusiastic about your company’s direction and want to participate. It is a great way to retain talent for your business and improve workplace culture. In addition to these benefits, getting your employees to volunteer or participate in fundraising makes your company eligible for additional tax deduction benefits.

Do: Publicize to customers

There’s nothing wrong with bragging about doing a good thing! Your current customers are bound to have a positive reaction if your company is giving back. If you publicize your charitable efforts, you may even attract new customers who believe in supporting businesses with philanthropic behavior. While this might not bring direct tax benefits, more customers is good for your bottom line, which no business owner will complain about. Consider the positive PR that comes with giving.

Don’t: Ignore paperwork

When it’s time to file your tax deduction, there are some important things to remember. Be sure that your charity is eligible for a tax deduction by using the IRS search tool and learn about the limitations of each type of charitable deduction on the IRS charitable contribution topic page. You must report your charitable contribution on Form 1040 Schedule A of your taxes before the end of the business tax year. Remember that your deduction cannot amount to more than half of your adjusted gross income. Always have your records of charity contributions close at hand, in case of a tax audit.

Business owners benefit in many ways from charitable donations, so including them in your next filing is a worthwhile goal. We understand that choosing the right charities, keeping records of your contributions and filing tax deductions is a complicated process. If you are looking for a helping hand when you’re giving back, our team can assist you with our business tax services to help reduce your tax burden as much as possible. Contact us today to get started with tax savings.

Getting the Most out of Vehicle Expense Deductions

Getting the Most out of Vehicle Expense Deductions

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If your business requires any driving, you owe it to yourself to make a vehicle tax deduction. It’s one of the most common business tax deductions because so many industries require vehicles to get work done. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service sets a standard mileage rate so business owners can calculate their deduction accurately. For 2017, the rate is dropping slightly to 53.5 cents per mile as opposed to 54 cents per mile in 2016. The new rate goes into effect on January 1st 2017, so be aware of this small adjustment within the next month. Keep in mind that you must keep accurate records of your travel dates, destinations, and reasons for driving if you’re hoping to capitalize on the deduction.

How It’s Calculated

You might be wondering what determines the transportation tax deduction rate, as it seems to fluctuate randomly on a yearly basis. The truth is, there is a method to the madness, and the IRS calculates the rate based on changing market conditions. The government agency reviews a study of the fixed and variable costs of operating a motor vehicle for a given year before changing the deduction standards. The largest factors for the 2017 rate were declining fuel prices that slightly outweighed rising vehicle insurance and maintenance costs. While you may not receive quite as much of a deduction next year, it also costs slightly less to get from Point A to Point B.

An Alternative Option

If you prefer not to use the standard rate for business transportation, you have the option to calculate the actual cost of operating your vehicles. This method requires much more detailed record keeping, but can potentially result in a larger deduction. You can rack up extra deductions for gas, oil changes, repairs, licenses, parking fees, insurance costs, car washes, and more when you calculate every vehicle related expense.

What’s Right for Your Business

Choosing between standard mileage rates and actual vehicle expenses can be tricky — if you have a small, old, or inexpensive car, you’re more likely to benefit from standard mileage. If you’re willing to track every expense, and you drive a more expensive vehicle, actual vehicle rates may be worth the effort. At Charles Motl & Associates, we are always available to consult your business on its vehicle tax deductions. Learn more about our tax services to get the most out of your 2017 filing.

Business Tax Deductions You Didn’t Know Existed

Business Tax Deductions You Didn’t Know Existed

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There’s nothing worse than realizing you could have saved money on your taxes after you’ve already filed them. It’s easy to overlook some of the lesser-known deductions that exist, but doing so could cost you a pretty penny. Sometimes business owners wait until the last minute to do their taxes, and that rush prevents them from researching money saving options at their disposal. If you don’t have a tax planner by your side, you’re left guessing about your best options. Start keeping records of your tax write offs now, and your 2017 tax day will go much smoother.

Home Office

Your home office probably doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think. So long as you have a dedicated computer for work and a space to get business tasks done, you can probably make a home office deduction on your taxes. That square footage isn’t the only thing that counts as business expenses – your mortgage, electricity and insurance costs count as well. Some people worry that a home office deduction is a red flag that invites an IRS audit, but if you are actually using it for business you have nothing to worry about.

Furniture

Buying office furniture may seem like a big investment initially, but it can save you money come tax day. Your office chairs, tables, filing cabinets and desks are all deductible if you’ve purchased them since your last tax filing. There are several types of furniture deductions you can take utilize. You can either deduct the total cost of the furniture at once, or you can reduce your tax burden incrementally over seven years. Base your choice on when you anticipate benefiting from that money most.

Driving Expenses

Hitting the open road doesn’t have to hit your pocket book hard. If you keep careful records of your driving miles, the government is more than willing to give you a break on your taxes. Some things you’ll want to keep on record are dates, miles driven, parking expenses and explanations for your trips. Make sure to keep your receipts on hand if you don’t have a receipt-scanning app on your phone. When you have that information at hand, you can easily save some money that would otherwise be gone forever. Gas mileage deductions vary by year, and for 2016 they are at 54 cents per mile driven.

Travel Costs

If you’re a frequent business traveller, you stand to save a significant amount of money with your expenses. You can deduct the total cost of your hotel stays from your taxes, so it’s worth springing for a few extra stars if you have the opportunity. Planes, trains and car expenses don’t have to set you back either. Exactly 100% of those costs can go directly towards deductions. That includes related expenses, such as tipping your flight attendant or visiting a laundromat while on the road. You can even write off your meal costs while travelling, albeit at a reduced deduction rate of 50%.

Education

If you want to be a master of your trade, you need to have the smarts to compete. Luckily, if you have education costs, you can write them off of your taxes if they relate to your current job. The IRS is strict about this write off though; you can’t own a bakery and go to school for your Masters of Architecture free of charge. If you want to improve your skills for your current position, this tax break gives you the chance to expand your career in a way that’s financially sensible. If you believe the best business owners are always learning, this incentive might be for you.

When it comes to taxes, every business owner wants to minimize their expenses. Tax deductions give you the chance to save money on the things you’d probably buy anyways, so it’s a no-brainer to take advantage of them. Of course, the examples above are just a few of the tax write offs you should be aware of. Our experts can help you reduce your tax burden, and ensure you won’t miss any deductions for the upcoming tax season. When we provide tax services, we work with businesses through the entire year, so no tax saving opportunity slips through the cracks. Learn more about our tax preparation services, and call today!

Bookkeeping Basics: What Is Cost Accounting?

Bookkeeping Basics: What Is Cost Accounting?

Cost accounting is a technique used to determine the best financial course of action. The primary purpose of cost accounting is to help decision-makers make decisions. By analyzing the cost of products, services, and projects, accountants can advise businesses of the best course of action regarding a particular transaction. To put it more simply, you calculate the elements of cost for product process (raw materials, labor, and expenses/overhead), compare that cost with the product price, determine the business’s revenue, and decide if and where savings are needed.

 

Cost accounting doesn’t have a singular approach. Cost accounting methods include: (more…)