Three Categories of Business Purchases that You Can’t Deduct

Pragmatic business owners are grounded in a principled effort to maximize sales and minimize expenses. But the preparation of income tax returns commonly diverts their focus to identification of maximum expense write-offs. Despite tracking ordinary and necessary business expenses throughout the year, entrepreneurs are emboldened to mine for even more deductions they may have overlooked in their accounting.

Unfortunately, not all business purchases are tax-deductible. An entrepreneur is confronted with limitations on deducting several types of expenditures that seem like legitimate costs of doing business. Simply having your business pay for these things does not make them tax-deductible.

Customer Relations

Tax-deductible business meals are arrangements where the primary purpose is conducting business. Buying lunch for a customer so that business matters may be discussed is a deductible business expense. Dining solo is not. Stopping for lunch alone between business appointments is not tax-deductible. This holds true even if you would have avoided the restaurant cost were it not for your appointment schedule outside the office. The exception is meals you consume while traveling overnight away from home for business purposes. Moreover, only half of the cost for business meals is tax-deductible.

Giving gifts to customers is a common business practice. It builds goodwill and aims to garner referrals. But the IRS limits the tax deduction of a business gift to $25 per person for each gift. Hence, if you give a gift of $100 to a customer, your deduction is limited to only $25.

Appearances at Meetings

Getting to business meetings using your personal vehicle triggers a tax deduction based on the miles driven. Don’t count the miles commuting from home to your principal place of business. Going to a meeting before going to your office necessitates a little arithmetic. To determine the business miles, subtract the home to office commuting distance from the miles driven between home and the meeting location.

Looking sharp for a business meeting is certainly beneficial. Maybe you always prefer casual clothing, except when seeing customers. Nevertheless, clothing adaptable to other situations is not a tax-deductible business expense. Only uniforms – including clothing with a company name or logo – are deductible. Not anything else you buy that is common attire for occasions other than business.

Protections from Trouble

Life insurance on a business owner is definitely prudent, especially when the company is expected to survive the current owner. Tax deduction of the premiums is not allowed if the business is the policy beneficiary. If the owner’s heirs are the beneficiaries, the business may deduct the premiums. But doing so could be unwise because it jeopardizes the future income tax exclusion of life insurance death benefits.

Keeping out of trouble with the law is clearly a crucial business matter. But fines and penalties levied on an enterprise are not tax-deductible. A penalty for late payment of a tax assessment must be accounted for separately from the tax itself. You cannot deduct the penalty. Likewise, no deduction is allowed for parking tickets or traffic citations issued when traveling for business – such as making delivers or attending meetings.

 

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