Successful entrepreneurs find ways to save money and maximize their returns. Here are just some of the ways they do just that, according to a few experts.
Commonly Overlooked Tax Breaks
According to Steven E. Warren, CPA with Lehrman, Flom & Co., some commonly missed tax breaks include the Domestic Production Activities Deduction, the Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit and the Worker Opportunity Tax Credit. Some of the other lesser-known tax breaks include the disabled access credit and a tax credit for setting up and administering a small business retirement plan. Ask your accountant about these opportunities.
Warren adds that net operating loss is another sometimes-missed tax break.
"A company that is not doing well this year may be able to carry the loss back two years (other carryback periods may apply depending on the situation) to get a refund on taxes paid with a tax return filed two years ago," he says.
Also, some tax breaks may exist based simply on where your business is located, because there are many states that have tax deductions and credits for qualifying taxpayers.
Andrew Schwartz, CPA with Schwartz & Schwartz PC, says that one of the best things you can do is find a tax professional who specializes in your business' industry.
"A CPA should be able to provide advice to a client beyond preparing tax returns and financial statements. Today's complex tax and financial reporting rules require accountants to specialize, but most still have general practices," he says.
Filing and paying your taxes on time is crucial, says Anisha Bailey, president of A.C. Bailey Tax Solutions. She believes that late filings and payments will always increase your tax bill due to penalties and interest.
Year-Round Tax Planning
Her number one tax saving tip is year-round tax planning. She believes that you can't just put your head down and focus on getting new clients day in and day out. In her opinion, tax planning can mean the difference between paying $50,000 in taxes for 2012 or saving $50,000 in taxes. Saving $50,000 can mean taking $40,000 to hire a valuable employee, using $7,000 for customer appreciation and retention efforts, and taking the remaining $3,000 to go on a much-needed family vacation.
Gail Rosen, CPA, whose specialty is taxes for startup and ongoing entrepreneurs, emphasizes the importance of tracking expenses. She says self-employed people have to spend time reviewing all of their expenses since they pay federal, state taxes, social security and Medicare (both sides of the social security and Medicare, since they are both the employer and the employee). Each deduction lowers all of these taxes. For example, if you live in New Jersey, between federal, state, social security and Medicare, you are anywhere between the 25% to 57% bracket. Therefore, for every extra $1,000 of deductions you come up with savings of $250 to $570 in cash.
Some deductions entrepreneurs might be able to include are business expenses, such as office supplies, business dues, business publications, accounting fees for your business, business cards, business entertainment (50% deductible), gifts (limited to $25 a person a year), postage, printing, continuing education, computers and software. These are all business expenses and you should keep good accounting books to make sure you do not miss any of these potential deductions.
It's also important to note, according to Rosen, that if you recently started a business you should be aware that the way you treat some of your initial expenses for tax purposes could make a big difference in your tax bill.
"Taxpayers are permitted to elect to write off $5,000 of startup expenses in the year business begins, and the rest can be deducted over a period of 180 months that begins with the month business starts," she adds.
"Consider installing a medical reimbursement plan to cover co-pays, and deductibles. The business gets to deduct these costs in full and the owner/employee does not have to report the payments as income," says Howard M. Rosen, CPA.
Also consider hiring your children, he says. The business gets a tax deduction for their salary and the children may not have to pay any tax on the income. Another tip is to hold board meetings at vacation destinations.
"As long as 51% of the trip is business, the travel cost is deductible. Hotel, food, etc. is deductible during the meetings. Why not book your next board meeting at a vacation spot," he says.
The Bottom Line
While every situation is different and tax law is not "one size fits all," the above examples are just a few of the ways entrepreneurs can reduce their taxes.