Have you recently started a new business? Or are
you contemplating starting one? Launching a new business is a hectic, exciting
time. And as you know, before you even open the doors, you generally have to
spend a lot of money. You may have to train workers and pay for rent,
utilities, marketing and more.
Entrepreneurs are often unaware that many expenses
incurred by start-ups can’t be deducted right away. You should be aware that
the way you handle some of your initial expenses can make a large difference in
your tax bill.
Key points on how expenses are handled
When starting or planning a new business, keep
these factors in mind:
- Start-up costs include those incurred or paid
while creating an active trade or business — or investigating the creation
or acquisition of one.
- Under the federal tax code, taxpayers can
elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of
organizational costs in the year the business begins. We don’t need to
tell you that $5,000 doesn’t go far these days! And the $5,000 deduction
is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount by which your total start-up or
organizational costs exceed $50,000. Any remaining costs must be amortized
(deducted) over 180 months on a straight-line basis.
- No deductions or amortization write-offs are
allowed until the year when “active conduct” of your new business begins.
That usually means the year when the business has all the pieces in place
to begin earning revenue. To determine if a taxpayer meets this test, the
IRS and courts generally ask questions such as: Did the taxpayer undertake
the activity intending to earn a profit? Was the taxpayer regularly and
actively involved? Has the activity actually begun?