A great tax saving strategy, particularly for higher-income taxpayers is to start a small business. Many expenses that are not deductible for regular Federal Income Taxes are deductible to a business. For example, the mileage deduction is not deductible for personal driving purposes, and mileage driving to work is also not deductible. However, mileage driven for business purposes is tax deductible.
While starting a phony small business is not a good idea, no matter how big of tax savings can be achieved, there are many legitimate businesses that people can start. The key aspect of being legally considered a business for tax purposes is that there must be a profit motive to the activity. That profit motive must outweigh other reasons for engaging in the activity, otherwise, the enterprise could be considered a hobby instead of a business.
Formally incorporate the business with the Secretary of State in your state. Set up a LLC, it makes a great business structure for single-owner small businesses and is typically cheap and easy to setup. Filling out an online form and paying a registration fee is usually all that is required.
Then, get an Employee Identification Number, or EIN from the IRS. Unofficially known as FEIN by some people, an EIN is free and can be applied for and issued instantly online.
These steps go a long way toward legitimizing your business. Make sure you report a little bit of income along the way (verifiable income that comes with a 1099 is best) and your business can save you lots of money on taxes over the years.
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Small Business Tax Deductions That Regular Filers Can’t Get
With a small business, that trip to Office Depot is tax deductible. A business also makes it so you can deduct buying new computer equipment like monitors, printers, desks, chairs, and other office furniture. You can also deduct office supplies. All you have to do to save hundreds of dollars on your taxes is keep a mileage log for business purposes, and save those receipts for everything you purchase for the business.
When you file taxes for a LLC make sure to distinguish between office supplies like paper, toner, ink cartridges, coffee, notebooks, calculators, and so on, from capital expenditures. The difference lies in the usable life of the office equipment or office supply. Most consumables are considered office supplies, while items with a usable lifespan of years are considered equipment or capital.
The importance of this difference is that office supplies are straight tax deductible, while equipment or other capital expenditures may need to be depreciated. The definition of depreciation is that the amount deducted is equal to the amount of usable life that has been used up during the tax year. Since there is a lot of room for interpretation there, the IRS has formal depreciation tables and rules that state how long certain classifications of equipment must be deducted over. For example, if an item must be depreciated over 5 years, then the business can deduct one-fifth (1/5th) of the purchase price of the item in the first year, and then 1/5th, or 20% of the price in each of the four following years.
It is typically in the business’ best interest to deduct items as quickly as possible. Fortunately, small businesses can take advantage of a special tax provision for entrepreneurs and other small business owners.
2009 Section 179 Limit
Businesses may deduct the full cost of some items regardless of the usual taxable deprecation schedule as Section 179 Expenses. The Section 179 limits for 2009 is $250,000. That means that a business can deduct up to $250,000 worth of anything without having to depreciate it over the normal lifespan of the item. For high-income taxpayers, this offers a big tax deduction if used properly.
Section 179 Limits 2009 Vehicles
Deducting the cost of an automobile has been a favorite tax deduction for tax payers with high incomes. However, the total depreciation deduction for a passenger automobile placed in service during 2009 is $2,960, or $10,960 for automobiles that qualify for the special depreciation allowance.
The maximum deduction for a truck or van is $3,060 or $11,060 for those that qualify for the special depreciation allowance.
The old tax loophole for buying a Hummer, Suburban, or other heavy vehicle to get a bigger Federal Income Tax deduction has been largely closed.