Spend to Save: 5 Tax Deductible DIY Office Projects
This guest post is provided by Chris Long, a contributor to the Home Depot blog.
With tax time right around the corner, everyone’s trying to save a buck. This can be a challenge when you look around your workspace and notice all of the ways you’d like to improve it. Whether you own a small business building or work from an office out of your home, one sure-fire way to save is to forgo outsourcing the work and just tackle the project personally. The best part is that many DIY projects are completely tax-deductible!
More and more people are realizing how spending a little time and energy making improvements can equal big savings come tax time. Maximize the return on your investment on the front end by doing it yourself and maximize your tax returns come April 15 with these five itemized deduction-approved DIY projects for your small business or home office.
The IRS recognizes that we all need to work in a clean and functional environment and allows an itemized deduction for office cleaning services. All you’ll need for this project are a vacuum (to use before you wash), carpet shampoo, a carpet cleaner, and an overnight period for the carpets to dry. You can rent heavy-duty carpet cleaners from your local home improvement store (again, don’t forget the shampoo!) and knock this project out in a weekend. Make sure you wipe down the cleaner before you return it so that you avoid an additional fee for returning a “dirty” machine.
Slap Some Paint on the Walls
In keeping with the “clean and functional workspace” theme, you can take advantage of a
deduction for interior painting. After all, dingy walls can steal some of the thunder from your freshly washed carpets! With the new “paint and primer in one” options for interior paint, the job can be completed in as little as one coat. Save even more time by renting an airless paint sprayer when you rent your carpet cleaner – just be sure to use a compatible paint.
Don’t be afraid to mix in a little color (the IRS doesn’t give you a bigger deduction by using
white, so why not try something more fun?) as long as the color is appropriate for the type of work you do. For example, an orange might work well for a graphic designer, but not so much so a lawyer – just use your judgment and the possibilities are endless.
Create Your Own Artwork
If a bright wall is just too much for you, start small by putting little pops of color on a more
neutral background. The IRS allows deductions for office improvements of all types, including artwork and accessories – and there is no rule saying you can’t make it yourself.
When you pick up your wall paint, buy small cans of paint in your favorite color or colors (as little or as many as you’d like – this is about creativity!), along with a brush or two and a fabric drop cloth. Alternatively, you could purchase a few pieces of cut lumber to paint on. No matter what you choose to use as your canvas (even an actual canvas), once you’re finished expressing yourself with the paint, you can hang your creation on the wall to dress up your office and reduce your tax bill all at the same time.
Go Green: Bring the Outdoors Inside
Improve your air quality and your office’s appearance with a little plant or flowerpot as your next office improvement deduction. Consider mixing in different types of plants or flowers based on what will work in your environment – local greenery is not only a great sustainable choice, but it also ensures it will actually grow in your area, with appropriate care, of course. Take this project one step further by decorating your own planter: pick up some non-toxic paints and a few terra-cotta pots when you’re shopping for your other improvements and create a beautiful, handmade flower display.
Bonus Project: Refinish a shelf (or table) for your magazine subscriptions – both deductible!
Repurposing items you already own takes tax-deductible savings to a whole different level and provides a great opportunity to do something with that old shelf or table that has been collecting dust in your garage. You can pick up an antiquing kit or some glossy spray paint to breathe new life into a worn-out piece of furniture. Be sure to thoroughly clean and/or sand the piece before you apply whatever treatment you choose. Once it is completely dry, use it in your waiting room to display your magazines and books or to house your office supplies next to your desk. If you go the magazine route, don’t forget to deduct your subscriptions!
There is no end to the small office deductions you can find! What are some of the tax deductible ways you’ve improved your workspace?