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SI_Cover-Shadow_Nov17November 2017

Developing Self-Employment

Nicole VanHaaren is the owner of Vanhaaren Designs located in Olivet, Michigan. Vanhaaren Designs provides web and graphic designs for personal and professional use. When Nicole is not busy raising her two children, she can be found creating websites from the ground up or editing images and color schemes. Providing superior customer service is her main focus when working with clients.


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Deductible Expenses

Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Question:
I am attempting to complete my first Schedule C for my new business and I am not sure what is deductible. Do you have a list of deductible expenses that I can use?

Answer:
There are certainly expenses that are common to all small businesses and those that are common to specific industries. Perhaps the best place to start a list of common expenses is right on that same Schedule C that you are preparing to complete. Part II of the Schedule C is titled “Expenses” and provides a great place to start from advertising to car and truck expenses to insurance and interest expense to travel and wages. The fact that the detailed expense items are listed right on the Schedule C indicates those are indeed common expense categories for small business owners.

Having said that I encourage you to avoid reviewing any specific list of expenses but instead simply look at all of the cash disbursements incurred in connection with your business. Keep in mind that almost all deductible items begin with the spending of money. The general requirement for a disbursement to be considered a deductible business expense is that the item was an ordinary and necessary expense for doing business in your specific industry. If you spent any money in connection with your business, most likely it will be deductible.

If you have not already done so, consider opening a separate bank account exclusively for your business. All business income will be deposited into that account and all ordinary and necessary business expenses will be paid from that account. At the end of the year, you will have already decided which expenses are business expenses as you pay the bill. If the service or product is primarily for business, then use the business debit card or a business check to pay the bill.

There are some expenses that don’t show up in that business checkbook or as a normal business disbursement so extra care should be taken to avoid missing those key deductions. Among the most commonly missed are the business use of your automobile, the home office deduction, and options you may have for making deductible retirement plan contributions. So make sure to look at all the expenses you incurred in operating your new business but also look outside the lines as well.

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