What Is A Tax Write-Off? 5 Most Common Write-Offs For Small Businesses

Understanding the ins and outs of tax write-offs is a massive advantage for every business owner. It helps you determine the correct amount of tax owed, and more importantly, what to write off to avoid paying any unnecessary extra money. 

This article will cover what a tax write-off is and the 5 most common tax write-offs that might benefit your business. 

Read on! 

What is a tax write-off? 

A write-off (or a tax reduction) is an expense that you can deduct from total revenue to determine the taxable income for your small business. Essentially, tax write-offs lower your taxable income, which means you will pay less tax. That’s why small business owners always try to write off as many expenses as possible.

However, write-offs must be necessary to a business’s operation and be common in the applicable industry to be qualified, according to the IRS. For example, a tax advisor can write off their business cell phone bill because taking calls helps the business operate smoothly, and it’s a common practice in the tax consulting industry. So, the cell phone expense is qualified to be deducted. 

How do small businesses write off? 

Every business, except for partnerships, needs to file an annual income tax return which will include your business write-offs. All you need to do is visit the IRS website and get the correct income tax form for your business structure. You then fill your tax write-offs in and submit the form! 

It’s also crucial to document your business spending, big or small. Your bookkeeping entries aren’t sufficient. You must keep all receipts and purchase records, whether physical or digital. This will help you stay ready if the IRS knocks at your door. 

If your piles of receipts constantly give you a headache, try Shoeboxed! Shoeboxed is a receipt scanner app that digitizes and extracts important information from your paper receipts automatically in seconds. Every single receipt will be stored and fully searchable in one secure place. Sign up for Shoeboxed to enjoy the paperless world! 

Top 5 common tax write-offs for small businesses 

The good news is most business expenses are either fully or partially deductible. Below, you’ll find a list of the top 5 write-offs commonly available that a small business owner should be aware of for the tax season.

  1. Advertising and promotion expenses

You can fully subtract the cost of advertising and promotion from your taxable income. It can be anything like:

  • Ad fees on Google or social media like Facebook, Instagram, etc.  
  • Printing costs for business cards, brochures, and flyers
  • Payment for designers to make logos, posters, etc. 
  • Software used for marketing purposes
  • Website expenses

Remember though, any expenses spent to influence legislation like lobbying or to sponsor a political campaign can’t be deducted. 

  1. Car and truck expenses 

If you use your vehicle for both business and personal reasons, you can deduct all the business-related expenses from using it.  

There are two ways to calculate your automobile expenses. You can choose whatever option gives you the most tax savings. 

  • Standard mileage rate: With this method, you just need to multiply the number of miles traveled for business by the standard rate, which is now $0.56 per mile. 
  • Actual expense method: This method entails adding up all of your vehicle’s operational costs such as gas, repairs, oil, tires, registration fees, leasing payments, and insurance charges. Multiply them by the percentage of miles you drive for business

Keep in mind that you can’t deduct the miles driven while commuting to work because they are regarded as personal commuting expenses. 

  1. Travel expenses 

A business trip eligible for traveling tax deduction has to be ordinary, necessary, and away from the entire city or area where you operate your business, regardless of where you live (aka tax home). Plus, your travel must be longer than a normal day’s work, requiring you to sleep or rest during the trip. 

The IRS approves some deductible expenses for business travel, including:

  • Travel costs to and from your destination by plane, train, bus, or car
  • Baggage and shipping 
  • Parking and toll fees
  • Cost of transportation during the business trip
  • Accommodation 
  • Dry cleaning and laundry
  • Tips
  • Meals 
  • Other similar ordinary and necessary expenses related to your business travel. (e.g., a rental fee of a hotel business center, hiring an interpreter, etc.)

Again, remember to ask for and keep all the receipts and related documents as they are the foundation for writing expenses off. 

  1. Bank fees

You may be able to deduct annual or monthly service charges, transfer fees, or overdraft fees from your bank or credit card. Also, you may be eligible to deduct transaction and merchant costs paid to third-party payment processors. For example, platforms like Stripe and PayPal fall within this category. 

Keep in mind that any fees directly tied to your personal credit cards or bank accounts aren’t deductible. That’s why it’s best to separate your business bank account from your personal one, as it’s easy to mix things up when you file a tax return and you might end up losing money. 

  1. Education costs

You can fully write off education expenses if they contribute value to your business and advance your expertise. The IRS will look into your classes or courses to decide whether they maintain or improve skills that are compulsory in your current business. If yes, they can be written off completely. 

Below are some examples of education costs: 

  • Courses to improve skills in your field
  • Seminars and webinars
  • Subscriptions to trade or professional publications in your field
  • Books 
  • Workshops 
  • Transportation expenses to and from classes

Any education costs that don’t serve your current career and business wouldn’t be qualified. 

In short, maximize your write-offs 

No one wants to pay Uncle Sam more than necessary. That’s why you really should understand tax write-offs and minimize the amount of income tax you have to pay. Don’t forget to keep good records of every transaction in case the IRS wants to audit you!. 

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How To File Taxes For The First Time: A Complete Guide To All Your Questions

The first time filing taxes is a significant milestone for any young adult or freelance worker. You could count on your parents to handle tax filing in the previous years, but now it’s your turn to be responsible for your finances and file your taxes. This article will give you some quick tips on how to file your taxes for the first time and answer the most common questions. 

When do you need to file your taxes?

First, let’s figure out if you need to file taxes this year. This depends on your age, income, and filing status. For example, if you’re under age 19 (or under age 24 and a full-time student) and your parents cover more than half of your financial expenses, they can likely claim you as a qualifying child, and you won’t need to file taxes in this case. Another example is if you’re not married, younger than 65, and your gross income is less than $12,400, you also don’t need to file tax. 

Otherwise, if your income is from self-employment, this would be considered a “special situation,” and you’d be required to file your tax return. You can take a look at this guide for the minimum income to file taxes. 

how to file taxes for the first time
The IRS’s guide for the minimum income to file taxes

You can always check the IRS Tax Guide and answer a few questions to determine if you need to file.  

Important notice: Before filing your taxes, don’t forget to check with your parents to determine if they’re claiming you as a dependent on their taxes this year. This can happen if you still live with them or they offer substantial financial support. If you have enough income, you’ll still need to file your tax return, but your parents will get certain tax benefits, such as education tax credits and the Credit for Other Dependents. In this case, when preparing your return, you’ll need to indicate that you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return. 

What documents do you need to file taxes? 

1. Personal documentation and income tax forms

To prepare for your taxes, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number, your income (and any freelance work) or unemployment income, and receipts of other income types (from real estate, royalties, trusts). You’ll also need to prepare a copy of last year’s tax return. 

Here is a list of tax documents needed before you begin: 

  • W-2s 
  • 1099s
  • Receipts of other types of income (from real estate, royalties, trusts)
  • Tax forms that report other income types

FYI: Keeping track of all your receipts can be a daunting task — paper receipts can fill up your wallet, desk, and drawers. In this case, consider using a receipt management app to store these papers digitally. See our suggestion for the Top Five Receipt Scanner And Organizer Apps 2021 to choose which one works best for you. 

Keep in mind that the IRS wants to know about all of your income, including your side jobs, bonuses, and interest income (such as from your savings account or investments), which the bank will notify you with a 1099-INT form if you’ve earned more than $10 in interest. So, don’t forget to keep track of your activities in the past year that might impact your taxes, such as: 

  • Changing jobs
  • Opening a new savings account
  • Selling stocks or mutual funds
  • Paying college tuition or student loan interest

2. Deductions

Deductions are factors that can lower your tax bill and can add to your refund. For instance, if you’re a student, you may be eligible for educational deductions. Your school will notify you if you qualify for these deductions by sending you a Form 1098-T. You can also deduct the interest you paid on your student loan. Or, if you’re a freelancer working from home, you might get the home office deduction. 

The most common tax deductions and credits for first-time filers are the following: 

Make sure you’re claiming as many deductions as possible, but remember to keep your deductions honest. 

You can try summing up itemized deductions and see if they’ll turn out to be more than the standard deduction. If not, don’t itemize since the standard deduction will save you more money.

Besides, if you itemize deductions, you need to be able to prove your expenses. This means being organized and keeping track of your receipts so you can prove to the IRS your return is legitimate. 

You can also claim your stimulus check if you missed one (or both). Check out the Recovery Rebate Credit on 2020 to see if it’s possible to claim this and file in Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR when preparing your federal tax return.

How to file taxes? 

After gathering all the necessary information, it’s time to start filing your taxes. But how to file taxes for the first time correctly? There are three options that you can choose from.

1. Filing taxes online

One of the most convenient ways to do your taxes is to file online. If your tax situation is simple, you can file your taxes for free using online tax services like TurboTax, H&R Block or the IRS’s free e-file options. You can also pay for premium packages to get access to extra features. 

These tools are comparatively easy to use. They will guide you through the process by asking you simple questions and filling out your state and federal returns for you. You can even take pictures of your completed forms and upload them to have your information entered automatically. Once you’ve finished, the tool will calculate the possible refund and file your taxes for you. 

2. Filing with a tax professional

It’s a great idea to have a specialist do your taxes if your tax situation is a bit complicated. You’ll have to pay a fee, which varies depending on the complexity of your taxes and the professionalism of the tax preparer. You can hire a certified public accountant, attorney, or enrolled agent. Just make sure the person is qualified by checking their credentials. 

Typically, the price range is between $100 and $300. If you’re looking for a low-cost option, you can look into your local credit unions and see if they may offer low-cost tax preparation services.

3. Filing your taxes manually

If you choose to file your taxes manually, especially when it’s your first time, it can be a bit complicated. You’d have to fill in Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR by hand and calculate all your income and deductions. After that, you’d have to send the form via email and wait from six to eight weeks for the IRS to process your return.

Though this is no longer a common way, especially when you don’t know how to file taxes for the first time, it can still be helpful for those who like to do some “DIY accounting” or simply want to practice the process. Keep in mind that if you choose to print and mail your return to the IRS rather than e-file it, you’ll have to think about the correct postage or stand in line at the post office.

The bottom line

Filing taxes, especially for the first time, is never easy and can lead to endless headaches. However, don’t let it scare you. All you need to do is track and manage your expenses properly, keep all necessary documents, and use a reliable tax service or contact a tax professional. 

The Shoeboxed Receipt Scanning & Expense Tracking app enables users to keep track of their expenses and receipts by turning paper receipts into digital data for tax prep purposes, accounting and bookkeeping. You can clear your wallet, desks, and drawers of paper receipts and have them precisely scanned with our OCR engine and human data verification features. We ensure that all of your paper receipts are legibly scanned, clearly categorized, and accepted by the IRS. 

Shoeboxed saves you a lot of time and hustle preparing for taxes, especially for the first time. Shoeboxed is now available on iOS and Android. Get your free trial now and be ready for the tax season! 

Why Are Bank Receipts Important to Every Business?

What documents are crucial to a business? Business plans, marketing strategies, or financial reports? The answer is all of them. How about receipts? Don’t forget about them because they are also important. 

There are three types of receipts that greatly impact a business: sales, expense, and bank receipts. Sales and expense receipts are necessary to calculate a business’s cash flow, while bank receipts contain detailed information about financial transactions conducted at banks.

There’s no doubt that many of you have heard about the importance of sales and expense receipts before, but not many people talk about bank receipts. Therefore, in today’s article, we’ll give you some insight into bank receipts and what makes them important to a business. 

What is a bank receipt?

We all know what a bank receipt is to some extent, but let’s break down what exactly we mean by a bank receipt before diving into why it’s important for every business.

Bank receipts are standard forms of documentation for most financial transactions. A bank receipt denotes all information related to the financial transactions conducted during your visit to a bank. Whatever your purpose to visit a bank is, either to deposit or to withdraw funds, you’ll walk out the door of the bank with a receipt. 

Typically, there are two hard copies of receipts given to both parties involved in the transaction. An account holder who conducts the transaction will get one copy while the bank keeps a similar piece. These days, many banks offer their customers a digital copy of receipts, by email or via text message, as an alternative. 

Bank receipt templates vary from bank to bank, but there are some essential pieces of information that every bank receipt includes. Mandatory details of a bank receipt include:

  • Bank account numbers
  • Account holder name(s)
  • Date of transaction
  • The total amount of the transaction

Sometimes a bank receipt includes detailed information of the bank teller who assists you with your financial transaction.

4 reasons businesses should keep bank receipts

1. Track cash flow

If you open a business checking account at a bank, you’ll receive a monthly bank statement from your financial institution. These statements summarize all your business transactions in a month with a detailed list of beginning and ending balances, as well as deposits and withdrawals. 

Generally, you’ll review your monthly bank statement and compare the transaction details with your bank receipts to keep track of your business’ spending. The bank receipts are also helpful when used along with the monthly bank statement to monitor any fraudulent charges or mistakes.

2. Solve a dispute

If there’s a dispute arising around a transaction, a bank receipt serves as trustworthy evidence. Whether a bank teller makes an error during a transaction or you accidentally miscalculate a portion of a transaction, bank receipts make it much easier to resolve disputes.

Imagine that you visit a bank and make a deposit of $50,000, but a bank teller accidentally deposits the funds into the wrong bank account. You’re actually unaware of this and leave the bank without knowing there’s a huge problem. When you realize the $50,000 deposit is missing from your account, sure it could lead to panic! 

Soon after that feeling is gone, you’ll start searching for an answer to that question. You’ll want to know what happened to your money, whether a mistaken transaction has been made, or a cyber fraud has occurred. You check the bank receipt and notice there’s an error in the bank account number. You then return to the bank to dispute the issue. The bank will use its receipt to confirm the transaction error. The dispute will peacefully be resolved. 

3. Keep the bookkeeping accurate and up to date

Bank receipts are generally a very helpful tool for your bookkeeping practices. Bank receipts are proof of all the financial transactions that impact your cash flow. Many banks recommend businesses balance their account books on a monthly basis. Therefore, accountants or bookkeepers will go over monthly bank statements and cross-reference this data with the bank receipts which have been gathered for a given month. 

Bookkeepers also use bank receipts for data entry purposes to track credit card payments, which can help you stay on top of your payments. With good bookkeeping practices, bank receipts can even help you improve your credit score over time.

If you’re a big business which has plenty of receipts, cross-checking data from bank statements and bank receipts manually can be labor-intensive. Many companies have switched to a digital bookkeeping tool which can do the same job as a bookkeeper but can be more efficient to some extent. 

A bookkeeping management software allows businesses to scan, store, organize and track receipts with ease. Bookkeeping software developed by Shoeboxed is an ideal tool for every business. Not only can you organize and track receipt data, but you can also use Shoeboxed to make expense reports for tax preparation or reimbursement.

4. Claim tax deductions

When you’re running a business, you must pay tax. It’s a legal obligation. There are several taxes that every company has to pay, and it’ll result in a loss of your profit. But, there’s also a tax deduction that lowers an organization’s tax liability. 

Deductions are typically expenses that the taxpayer incurs during the year that can be applied against or subtracted from their gross income to figure out how much tax is owed. The tax deduction rate varies from company to company, depending on whether you run the business as a sole proprietorship or use a legal entity such as an LLC or corporation. All in all, businesses often claim tax deductions to save some money. 

No matter if you’re a home business or big-name company, you’ll go through the same tax reduction process. The first step is to collect proof of purchase for your business expenses. Bank receipts which record all your expenses in a given year are solid evidence. Next, you just need to find the right tax form and fill in all the details. The last step is to submit the tax form, and you’re good to go.

The bottom line

Bank receipts are of no less importance than any other documents in a business. Bank receipts allow businesses to track their cash flow, solve disputes, keep the bookkeeping up to date and even claim tax deductions with ease! If you think they’re important and should be kept in a safe place with high accessibility, think of scanning and storing them on the cloud. Shoeboxed allows you to turn that awesome idea into reality. Try Shoeboxed today!