Someone once said, ‘the best way to calculate your taxes is…Honestly’. Add ‘Smartly’ to that and you’ll get to keep more than you make. This April 15th is going to be the day of reckoning for every taxpayer. If you are smart enough with your accounting and keep your eyes and ears open, this could be your favorite day of the year. Take full advantage of tax deductions due you and you can come back richer from the IRS office.
As a home business owner who has been keeping track of every dollar spent, you can make a killing on your tax deductions with these smart taxpayer tips.
- Jot it all down: keep a track of all your business expenses. Maintaining timely and accurate records is something you’ll thank yourself for, this April. You don’t necessarily need elaborate documentation to do this. An easy and a very cost effective way would be to keep all your expenses jotted down in a diary. It is a good idea to collect evidence as well (in case the IRS decides to do an audit later) like receipts, bills, and statements for cheque payments etc.
- Shop for your taxes: this financial year you will have a choice to either deduct your state income tax or your state sales tax. Do some math and compare the two to see which tax deduction is higher. Major purchases in the last financial year should be crosschecked to see in which category they yield a larger deduction.
- Itemize your deductions: Before you decide to settle down for standard deductions ($4,850 for singles and $9700 for married couples filing jointly), fill out Schedule A to see if your itemized deductions are larger than the standard deductions. You might be in for a surprise. Consider itemized deductions in areas like: Home ownership, charitable donations, Medical expenses and miscellaneous deductions. According to the IRS’s most recent numbers, those filers who itemized back in 2002 deducted an average of $19,673 from their taxes
- Go beyond the usual deductions: This year look beyond the good ol’ mortgage interest deduction to save some more. Consider medical and dental expenses, sales tax and personal property tax, education expense, damage cause by disaster or theft and miscellaneous expenses. Miscellaneous would include job search expenses, investment expenses like brokerage fees, safety deposit boxes and subscriptions to investment publications. Also included in miscellaneous is..Believe it or not… expenses of filing your taxes! This is still not over: add depreciation on your computer and cell phones used for business purposes.
- Entertainment and meal expenses: no…this doesn’t include lunch with friend to swap Christmas part ideas. Establishing the business purpose of a meeting is crucial for deducting expenses on entertaining.
- Transport expenses: if you use your own car for getting about on business, you can claim deductions on that too. Take care to religiously note down details like mileage, tolls, parking fees and maintenance costs.
A good way of finding out what more you can use for maximising your deduction is to get tax preparation software.
A word of caution here: keep ‘creative deductions’ like kid’s allowance, silicone implant etc. out of the picture. It is rather difficult to outrun the IRS, as they have three years to decide they want to verify your records and can drop in for a surprise audit.
Maximise your tax deductions in 2005 with these tips and see all the cash flow back in into your business.