6 Common Mistakes Business Owners Make on Their Taxes

Filing your small business’s tax return may be a dreaded task you’re tempted to put off until April 14, but we advise that you don’t. That’s because mistakes are made when you’re in a rush, resulting in interest charges, penalties or unwanted attention from the IRS. Mistakes can be avoided by being prepared and planning ahead. Here are the 6 most common tax mistakes business owners make:

Mistake #1: Filing late

It’s important to file your taxes on time to avoid a 5 percent per month penalty by the IRS (that increases until the return is filed), a 6 percent interest penalty and a late payment penalty. You can request a filing extension, but you will still need to pay a portion by the original due date. It’s better to avoid the headache, be organized and file on time.

Mistake #2: Not paying estimated taxes during the year

If you are a sole proprietor, S corporation, are self-employed or a partner and you expect to owe $1,000 or more when you file a return, you are required to make estimated tax payments throughout the year. The same is true if you are a corporation expecting to owe $500 or more in taxes.

Mistake #3: Not having organized, visible financials

Using Excel to track your income, expenses and receipts might suffice when you are first starting out, but once you get bigger you will need a program that is more robust. Your financials need to be up-to-date, accurate and all in one place so you can make good tax and cash decisions.

Mistake #4: Intermingling personal and business expenses

It’s important to keep your business expenses separate from your personal ones. You can do this by having a separate bank account and credit card for your business, and always use your business credit card for business expenses. Even if you purchase both personal and business items at an office supply store, use different credit cards to pay for them so you can keep those expenses separate.

Mistake #5: Not tracking expenses

Throughout the year you need to save receipts, log the business miles you put on your car and track your expense categories. Did you know that only 50 percent of certain business meals are deductible? Platforms like QuickBooks and Freshbooks can help you keep track of expenses, and apps like MileIQ can track your business mileage.

Mistake #6: Not getting professional help

It may be tempting to save money and do everything yourself, but unless you know what you are doing, it could cost you time, money and headaches in the end. Consider consulting with a bookkeeper or accountant throughout the year to make sure you have good processes in place come tax season.

Donohoo Accounting Services has more than 20 years of experience helping clients with their tax and financial issues. Advising small businesses on their taxes is what we do best. If you have any questions about preparing your taxes or would like to know more about the services we provide, please call us at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

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Do You Qualify for a Home Office Deduction?

If you worked from home pre-COVID or have landed a home office job since quarantine, you may be wondering if you qualify for a home office deduction on your taxes. Tax season will be here before we know it, so it’s not too soon to be thinking about these types of deductions.

The answer is maybe. Eligibility rules can be confusing, but here are some boxes you need to check to qualify:

You’re NOT a W-2 employee

Being a W-2 employee means you work for someone else who withholds income, Medicare taxes and Social Security from your paycheck. W-2 employees are NOT eligible for home office deductions.

If you are self-employed, a contract worker/freelancer, or are a 1099 employee, you may qualify for this deduction.

You have a designated workspace

The IRS says home office expenses can be deducted when the home office space is used exclusively for conducting business. A spare bedroom, room, or a nook in your basement would count. It doesn’t have to be a completely separate room and you don’t need to construct permanent partitions, but it does need to be a “separately identifiable space.” Consider arranging furniture to mark your office boundaries, or use a panel room divider, a bookcase or even a curtain.

Your space is used regularly and exclusively for work

In order to qualify, the space must be regularly used for business, and not a shared space for your personal tasks. That rules out your kitchen table. Spaces that are used only occasionally or incidentally for business don’t count either.

It’s your principal place of business

If you meet with patients, clients or customers outside of your home, your home office could still qualify if you use the space exclusively and regularly for invoicing, scheduling and other business-related tasks.

A freestanding structure on your property could also be a deduction if you have a studio, garage or barn that you work out of. If you use part of a large room in your home as your dedicated workspace you could deduct it if you figured out the percentage of your home this space accounts for.

You can calculate your home office deduction using the regular method or the simplified method.

The regular method considers the actual expenses of your home office — such as mortgage interest, insurance, repairs, depreciation, insurance and utilities — as a percentage of your whole house. The simplified option allows the qualified taxpayer to determine actual expenses by multiplying a prescribed rate by the square footage of the office space.

Donohoo Accounting Services knows that determining your eligibility for a home office deduction is confusing. We are here to help you understand the IRS rules, how they apply to you and which calculation method to use. With more than 20 years of experience in the business, we can help you find every deduction possible to reduce your tax burden. Give us a call today at 513-528-3982 for a free consultation.

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