Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Section 179 vehicles should be a key part of your small business tax deduction strategies. Can Section 179 property fit in with your business tax strategies?

Let Business Management Daily help you get each and every rental property depreciation credit and business tax deduction you’re entitled to.

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The tax law provides a special jobs credit—called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit—if you hire workers from one of several economically disadvantaged groups. Strategy: Hire qualified workers before year-end. For instance, if you hire a worker in November and pay him or her $2,000 a month, you can claim a credit of $1,600 (40% of $4,000) this year.

If you missed out on the popular cash-for-clunkers program this summer, you can still qualify for big tax benefits for an older vehicle by donating your “clunker” to charity. Instead of trading in your vehicle, simply give it away to a qualified charitable organization. This entitles you to a deduction on your ’09 return.

Q. We may have to pay environmental cleanup costs as a result of an investigation. Can we write off all of the costs on this year’s return?

Suppose your employees regularly incur business expenses that are not reimbursed by your company. For example, they might personally pay for business travel or tools. If that’s the case, there’s a way you can save income tax for employees while cutting employment tax for your company: Set up a salary reduction plan.

The IRS now requires many small business owners to use its Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to deposit employment taxes. Your business must use the electronic method if it has aggregate tax deposits of more than $200,000 ... If your company doesn’t comply, it may be assessed a 10% excise tax for failing to deposit taxes on time—even if the taxes are deposited in a timely manner by other means.

A recent government study showed that the average small business overpaid its taxes by $11,638. That’s sad enough. But sadder still is the fact that the tax code is actually written to favor small businesses like yours.

The rules for home-office deductions are particularly tough for corporate employees. Even if you legitimately use a home office for business purposes, you may not be entitled to a deduction. It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of the company. Strategy: Rent the office to the company, which can deduct the rent payments as a business expense. You must pay income tax on the rent payments, but won’t owe employment taxes.

A new Tax Court decision could produce a better tax result for many owners of LLCs and partners in LLPs. Strategy: Use a loss from an LLC or LLP to offset other highly taxed income. Previously, it was presumed that such losses usually could be used only to offset income from other “passive” activities. But the new case has opened the door to bigger tax savings.

Time is running out on a unique tax break for older taxpayers with charitable intentions. Strategy: Donate funds directly from your IRA. Instead of taking a taxable withdrawal and contributing what’s left after taxes, give the full amount to charity. There’s no tax due on the distribution.

Q. Our company is hiring temporary workers for a big upcoming job. Do we have to treat them as employees?