Business expenses are any expenses you have related to operating your business or self-employed practice. Business expenses are included in a business's income statement; they are deducted from the company’s revenue to show the net profit, reducing the company’s taxable profit.
Business expenses can be deducted if they are eligible according to IRS rules.
The IRS separates eligible for deduction business expenses into two categories - ordinary and necessary. Ordinary expenses are considered “common and accepted” in your business industry, and necessary expenses are considered “helpful and appropriate”.
Although some business expenses can be considered ordinary and necessary, you might be able to only partially deduct them or not at all. Business expenses that might be limited or not deductible at all are:
- Expenses used to figure out cost of goods sold
- Capital expenses
- Personal expenses
How to write off business expenses
In order to write off business expenses, you will need to record all eligible expenses throughout the year - remember to keep receipts for all. Add up your eligible expenses and claim them on your annual tax return.
Note that depending on the type of business you have, you will have to file expenses under either a personal income statement or a corporate tax return. Use the personal tax statement if you are self-employed, a sole proprietor or a limited liability company. If your company is structured as a corporation, you will have to file a corporate tax return instead.
List of deductible business expenses
Common business expenses you can deduct fully or partially can be fixed, variable and periodic. Common business expenses eligible for at least a partial deduction are:
- Rent, mortgage and utility bills
- Bank and legal fees
- Maintenance and repair of equipment
- Employee salaries and benefits, commissions
- Eligible employee expenses you have reimbursed
- Business travel
- Company cars payments, leases, maintenance
- Advertising, software and office supplies
See a full list of deductible business expenses on the IRS website.
Are you deducting mileage expenses? See our full guide on mileage reimbursement and deductions in the US.
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