Tax Season: The Forgotten Write-offs for Entrepreneurs

Young entrepreneurs give advice on the write-offs that you should be taking advantage of, but probably forgot about.
February 24, 2012

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country's most promising young entrepreneurs.  The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship and resources that support each stage of a business's development and growth.

When recently asked about the one thing that entrepreneurs often overlook when writing off business expenses on their taxes, YEC members had the following to say.

1. Business meals

It's easy to toss receipts with online banking, but save your meal receipts after dining with colleagues or clients! Write on the slip who attended and what business was discussed, and let your accountant do the rest.? Kelly Azevedo, founder of She's Got Systems

2. Cell phones

A lot of entrepreneurs don't often think about including their cell phone as a write-off because they lend themselves to personal use; however, if you (or your employees) use your cell phone for business, you can typically write it off directly. Ryan Stephens, founder of Ryan Stephens Marketing

3. Incorporation paperwork

The costs associated with starting up a business—like incorporation paperwork and preliminary legal fees—can be written off. Make sure to keep all your receipts or invoices from lawyers for tax season. Doreen Bloch, CEO and founder of Poshly

4. A portion of your mortgage

If you are running your business out of your home, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage. This goes for utilities as well!? Alexandra Levit, president and founder of Inspiration at Work

5. Drive to work? Write off gas

A lot of entrepreneurs are workaholics. This means that everyday of their lives consists of a drive to and from the office. If this applies to you, you can write off a great deal of your car's costs, including gas and any type of service you receive. Logan Lenz, president and founder of Endagon

6. Cabs and public transportation

All cabs and public transportation taken to and from meetings, business dinners, etc. can and should be taken as write-offs!? Josh Weiss, president and founder of Bluegala

7. Write off your rent

If you are renting a place to live and use that space—even for part of the time—for business, you can write off a portion of your rent expense. Come up with a percentage of time or space that your rented living arrangement supports your business, and write it off. Lucas Sommer, CEO and Founder of Audimated

8. Retirement plan costs and contributions

An entrepreneur has a tendency to focus on the here and now, and retirement can seem so far away. However, planning for retirement can provide immediate benefits in terms of a tax deduction. Whether setting up a plan for your growing employee base or just yourself, speak to your accountant about the specific deductions you're eligible for. Evan Kirkpatrick, CEO of Wendell Charles Financial

Pictured (clockwise from top left): Alexandra Levit, Ryan Stephens, Kelly Azevedo, Evan Kirkpatrick, Doreen Bloch, Logan Lenz

Photo credit: Courtesy subjects