When it comes to company taxes, tax day usually seems to come quickly—no matter when your company year-end falls.
Theoretically, the sooner you start planning and take advantage of tax benefits, the easier tax season will be for you and your company. Here are some tips to consider this upcoming tax season.
1. Understand your options for filing, as well as your tax liability.
The changes in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may affect your company this coming tax season.
If you own a sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation, or if you are a member of an LLC or LLP, your company may qualify for a 20 percent tax deduction. Owners of C corporations may also see lower company taxes this year of 21 percent.
"If your business is an LLC, you can also potentially save a considerable amount in company taxes by filing an S Corporation Tax Election (form 2553)," says Dustin Ray, leader of business development and growth initiatives at Incfile, a company that specializes in business formation.
"This little-known tip is one of the best ways to save money on taxes as an LLC owner," says Ray. "Filing form 2553 can potentially reduce the amount of income on which you have to pay self-employment tax."
2. Determine your eligibility for equipment asset depreciation.
"New rules regarding company taxes allow businesses to deduct the full amount of qualifying purchases up to $1 million in the year of purchase," says Darrel Yashinsky, president and founder of the Pinnacle Contractor Group, which provides tax-planning advice to businesses.
If your office comprises 10 percent of your home's area, then you can write off 10 percent of the home's upkeep, since that portion of your home is used exclusively for your business.
—Anthony Parent, co-founder and managing partner, Parent & Parent
It's possible that this tax break may change in the future, so Yashinsky advises taking advantage while you can.
"Qualified purchases include equipment, machinery, computer software and certain improvements to commercial property," he says.
3. Determine if your company taxes could benefit from an opportunity zone.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added Opportunity Zones to potential tax benefits for businesses. Opportunity Zones are economically distressed communities located throughout the U.S., District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.
In certain situations, if you buy property in an Opportunity Zone, you may qualify for preferential tax treatment that could save you a substantial amount of money. You must first set up a Qualified Opportunity Fund, an investment vehicle formed as a partnership or corporation that's designed to invest in eligible property in Opportunity Zones.
The investment will qualify you to defer company taxes on prior gains invested in the Qualified Opportunity Zone. How much you save will depend on how long you hold the property. If you hold the property for five years, you'll get a 10 percent exclusion of deferred tax gain. That rises to 15 percent after seven years.
4. Get familiar with eliminated tax deductions.
Entertainment and meal expenses are no longer allowable, according to the new tax law. The tax reform eliminated deductions for entertainment expenses entirely. Your company may now only deduct 50 percent of most meal expenses.
Finding out from your accountant how this is going to affect this year's tax return is advisable. You may want to examine costs in the meal and entertainment categories and make cuts accordingly.
5. Consider taking advantage of the home office deduction.
"If you're running a sole proprietorship and working on your own, it can be beneficial to have office space at home, rather than outside of the house," says Anthony Parent, co-founder and managing partner at Parent & Parent, which provides tax preparation assistance.
"Many entrepreneurs don't realize how beneficial it can be for company taxes to work from home," says Parent. "If you have a designated office space exclusively used for work, then that portion of your home's square footage is a write-off."
As an example, Parent explains, "If your office comprises 10 percent of your home's area, then you can write off 10 percent of the home's upkeep, since that portion of your home is used exclusively for your business. This refers to heating, cooling, electricity, mortgage, sewer, trash collecting, and so forth, because it's all tied to the business."
6. Open a company retirement account.
If you find you need more write-offs to avoid paying extensive company taxes, open a retirement account or contribute to an existing one.
As a business owner, you can choose from several different types of accounts, many of which can also be offered to your employees. Employer-sponsored retirement savings plans that can benefit company taxes include SIMPLE IRA, 401(k), SEP IRA and defined pension plans.
The various plans differ as to the amount the employer and employees can contribute. You'll also find various investment options within the plans. It's advisable to consult with your accountant as to the best plan to offset employee taxes.
7. Try to complete your company taxes early.
Given the changes this tax season, it's a good idea to have a clear picture of your company taxes as soon as possible—that way you can ensure that you are able to meet your tax obligations to the IRS on the due date.
Knowing where you stand can also help determine what you should pay in quarterly estimated company taxes.
Read more articles on taxes.
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