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Top 10 Tax Write-Offs for Small Business Owners

Top 10 Tax Write-Offs for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, tax season can be a stressful time. With all of those forms to mail to employees, expenses to track, and checks to write to the IRS, no-one could blame you for dreading the month of April. But beneath the bureaucratic onslaught, there is one shining beacon of hope: deductions, deductions, deductions. For the small business owner, deductions are a world of plenty.

Like everything to do with the IRS, the rules around deductions can be nuanced, so it’s important to do your research, talk with an accountant, and use a good tax calendar to stay on track of regulations and deadlines. Advises Austin-based Certified Public Accountant, David Coffman, “Make sure to keep good detailed records supporting your deductions for at least 6 years, and fill out the proper forms correctly and completely.”

Here are just a few deductions you won’t want to miss:

1. Travel Expenses

Rest assured that when you stay overnight at a hotel while conducting business away from home, that night will be fully tax-deductible. In fact, every night you spend away for business purposes will also be deductible, as will 50% of any meals you eat out (with or without a client in tow), any rental cars and plane tickets, and sometimes even transcription or translation services while traveling abroad.

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Thinking of extending your stay for a little vacation time? As long as the purpose of your trip is mainly for business, you can still deduct your travel costs to and from the destination. “However,” Coffman cautions, “expenses specific to the personal portion are not deductible.”

No matter what, just make sure to keep good track of your receipts regardless of the total (yes, even if it’s below $75).

2. Auto Expenses

Do you use your car for business? Do you own a company car? Some of the costs associated with gassing up and maintaining that car will be deductible. For 2012, you’ll be able to deduct 55.5 cents per each mile driven, as well as all business-related tolls and parking fees. Don’t just eyeball this, especially if you only own one car—it’s a red flag for IRS eyes. Keep track of the exact miles you drive, enter them into your accounting system or hand them to your bookkeeper, and include a detailed description for each recording.

3. Current and Capitalized Expenses

It’s easy to confuse current and capital expenses, so it’s worth defining them separately. Current expenses are things like rent and electricity bills—those ongoing costs that keep both your office and your business up and running. Capitalized expenses, on the other hand, are expenditures like equipment and vehicles. Current expenses are simply deducted from your business’ yearly gross income, while capitalized expenses must be deducted over a number of years. A general rule of thumb is this: if an item has a shelf life of longer than one year, it’s capitalized. That being said, many items such as office supplies and repairs can be deducted as current business expenses, but only after your business has opened its doors. Before that, they’ll be capitalized. Confusing? Maybe, but understanding these distinctions and filing accordingly will be well worth the effort in the end.

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4. Software and Subscriptions

Once upon a time, businesses looking for deductions in the area of software and subscriptions had to depreciate the cost of computer software over three years; see current vs. capitalized expenses. Now, however, computer and software expenses can be cited as expenses up front using the Section 179 election, just like magazine subscriptions.

5. Health Care Costs

Though exact amounts and procedures will differ based on the type of business filing you have, many health care costs are deductible for small business owners. For proprietorships, health insurance premiums are 100 percent deductible on Form 1040 as an adjustment to income, though that deduction can’t be more than your business’ net profit, and the deduction is void if you’re eligible for any other kind of health coverage—including those of your employed spouse. However, if your spouse worked for your business, then his or her premiums are also fully deductible.

Things will be a little different if you’re filed as a C-Corporation. In this case: “Health care costs, including out of pocket expenses, are deductible as a business expense under a health reimbursement arrangement,” says Coffman. You’ll want to contact accountant to get this set up at least in your initial year as a C-Corporation.

6. Bad Debts

It’s never any fun when a client doesn’t pay or a vendor doesn’t deliver, but if you’ve got a bad debt on your rolls, it may be deductible, but only for accrual basis rather than cash basis taxpayers (learn the difference here). Says Coffman, “If an accrual basis taxpayer has billed for his goods and services, he may write off as a bad debt any amounts not collected. A cash basis taxpayer may not write off uncollected fees for services or goods, but may write off the cost of the goods that were not paid for.”

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Unfortunately, this applies only to goods, not to services, which are a lot more difficult to quantify. Alas, you truly cannot recover lost time.

7. Home Office Deductions

Home office deductions are popular among small business people. If you work from home, you can deduct for depreciation, utilities, insurance premiums, mortgage interest and repairs. However, the deduction counts only for that space, and you must use the area regularly and exclusively for business. If you think this is a good excuse to get a break for all of that yard landscaping you’ve been paying for, think again: the rules around this deduction are strict, and it is often a trigger for audits, so learn them well before filing incorrectly.

8. Business and Professional Fees

If you’ve bought business books, paid any fees to lawyers, tax professionals and more, and their service is clearly related to this year’s activities, these all qualify as deductions. However, if these fees relate to future years, they’ll need to be deducted over the life of the benefit they provide.

9. Retirement Contributions

If you’re self-employed and contribute to a SEP-IRA or Keogh, these can all be deducted on your personal income tax return.

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Adds Coffman, “This is one of the few areas where you can claim a deduction in the current year for amounts paid in a later year. You get to see the effect of the deduction before you actually commit to it. Some plans, however, must at least be established prior to the end of the year.”

10. Phone Calls

Business-related phone calls are fully deductible, even if you conduct them on your personal cell phone or home phone. As with mileage, you just have to keep good records that separate the business calls from the personal ones. A good way to do this is to circle business calls and write a description on your bills, total them up and keep a copy to be added into your final returns. If you add a second line or buy a cell phone that’s dedicated primarily to business, you’ll be able to fully deduct any regular fees and charges associated with the line.

Take-Away

When tax season comes around, there’s a lot for small business owners to think about, and just as many deductions to benefit from as well. Do your research, keep abreast of the latest regulations, and contact a good accountant early in the year to get it done right. Don’t wait until the last minute, or you may miss out!

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Published on August 4, 2020

36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

36 Important Resume Skills (For All Types of Jobs)

Most jobs require specialized skills. At the same time, there are a lot of resume skills that apply across the board.

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, give your resume a refresh. Employers want to know: Can you communicate effectively? Are you easy to get along with? Can you manage your time effectively?

Remember, you may not get a second look. Use your resume to make a great first impression.

Holistic ability is what employers want to see when hiring. These resume skills can make you a top pick regardless of what role you’re applying for.

Communication

Being properly understood is critical. On any team, you must be able to relay and interpret messages with speed and precision. How you describe yourself, the concision of your phrasings, and the layout of your resume are great ways to showcase these skills.

1. Writing

Whether it’s emails or official documents, writing skills are essential for candidates in any industry. Clear, concise phrasings minimize misunderstandings and save the recipient time. This is probably one of the most important resume skills.

2. Verbal Communication

Speaking clearly and eloquently is one of the first things a hiring manager will note in an interview. Communicating over the phone is commonplace in business. Outline this skill on your resume, and they’ll invite you in to listen for themselves. This is easily one of the most important resume skills in most industries.

3. Presentation

Sales pitches and company meetings may include presentations, which require special communication skills. Being able to spearhead and properly carry out a presentation shows organization and resolve.

4. Multilingualism

Knowing more than one language can open doors for you and the business you represent.[1] Being able to speak another language allows your company to serve a whole new demographic.

5. Reading Comprehension

At any job, employee handbooks, company newsletters, and emails will come your way. Being able to decipher them quickly and effectively is an important resume skill. This goes hand in hand with having excellent writing skills.

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Tech Savvy

Technology is evolving rapidly, especially in the business world. Be sure to mention the technologies you’re familiar with on your resume, even if you don’t expect to use them daily.

6. Social Media

Almost everyone has some form of social media these days. Companies use platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to reach new audiences, provide customer service, and build brand loyalty.

7. Operating Systems

Can you use a Mac? What about a PC? Most jobs today require the use of a computer. Prior experience navigating common operating systems will help you acclimate much more quickly. This has become an important resume skill ever since the start of the information age.

8. Microsoft Office

Of all the software in the world, Microsoft’s Office suite might be the most popular. Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook are widely used in the business world. Having this as part of your resume skills is very helpful especially in certain industries.

9. Job-Specific Programs

Did you get the hang of HubSpot in your last role? Is Slack something you’ve mastered? Be sure to mention them on your list of resume skills. These demonstrate that you can pick up new tools quickly.

Interpersonal Skills

Despite the rise in technology, businesses are run by people. Working with and for people means you need to be able to handle yourself with poise in different social settings. Highlight roles and situations on your resume that involved tricky conversations.

10. Customer Service

No company can succeed without its customers. Being able to treat customers with respect and attention is an absolute must for any applicant. Specific industries regard this as the most important resume skill their prospective employees should have.

11. Active Listening

Listening is an underrated skill, especially for leaders.[2] If you can’t listen to other people, you’ll struggle to work as part of a team.

12. Sense of Humor

You might wonder why having a sense of humor is a part of your resume skills. Humor is important for building rapport, but getting it right in the workplace can be tough. Everyone loves someone who is entertaining and can lighten the mood. On the other hand, people are turned off by immaturity and inappropriate jokes.

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13. Conflict Resolution

A customer stomps up to your desk and starts yelling about a problem he or she is having – how do you handle this situation? The right approach is to work to resolve the situation, not to escalate or avoid it.

Teamwork

One of the best parts of any job is the bonds you build with your co-workers. Fostering healthy relationships can make the workspace more enjoyable for everyone.

14. Collaboration

Whatever your line of work, chances are good that you’ll be working with others. Being able to collaborate effectively with them is critical if the whole team is to hit its goals. You can use various apps and tools available to help you collaborate with your team.

15. Leadership

Even if the title of the job you’re applying to isn’t “manager” or “executive,” there will still be moments when it’s your turn to lead. Prove that you’re up to the challenge, and you’ll be looked at as a long-term asset. Listing this as one of your resume skills is certainly an eye-catcher for most.

16. Reliability

Work isn’t always easy or fun. You have to be willing to pull your weight, even when times are hard. Otherwise, your co-workers won’t feel as if they can count on you. Reliability is important in maintaining the cohesion of a team. You should let people know that they can rely on you.

17. Transparency

To work as a team, members must be willing to share information with each other. Are you willing to own up to your mistakes, share your challenges, and accept consequences like an adult? Let them know that you’re transparent and reliable.

Personal Traits

Your resume is about selling yourself, not just your education and work history. The good news is, your “soft” skills are a great opportunity to differentiate yourself. Use bullets beneath your past experiences to prove you have them.

18. Adaptability

In any role, you’ll need to adjust to new procedures, rules, and work environments. Remember, these are always subject to change. Being able to adapt ensures every transition goes smoothly.

19. Proactivity

An autonomous employee can get work done without being instructed every step of the way. Orientation is one thing; taking on challenges of your own accord is another. Being proactive is an essential resume skill, especially if you’re eyeing for managerial roles in the future.

20. Problem-Solving

When problems arise, can you come up with appropriate solutions? Being able to address your own problems makes your manager’s life easier and minimizes micro-management. Problem-solving is an important yet often overlooked resume skill.

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21. Creativity

Can you think outside of the box? Even roles that aren’t “creative,” strictly speaking, require creative thinking. Creativity also helps in your ability to solve problems.

22. Organization

Staying organized makes you more efficient and reduces the risk of mistakes. Organization skills make life easier not just for you, but also for other members of your team. This makes it an important skill to put in your list of resume skills.

23. Work Ethic

Every company wants hard workers on its team. You’re applying for employment after all, not a place to lounge around. Putting this on your list of resume skills is just as important as actually exhibiting it in the workplace once you’re hired.

24. Stress Management

How well do you work under stress? If you’ll be required to meet tight deadlines, you’ll have to prove you can handle the heat.

25. Attention Management

Whether you’re developing a partnership or writing a blog post, attention to detail makes all the difference. People who sweat the details do better work and tend to spot problems before they arise. Use Maura Thomas’s 4 Quadrants of Attention Management as a guide to managing attention.[3]

26. Time Management

Time is money. The better you are at using company time, the more valuable you’ll be. Show that you can make every second count. Managing your time also means being punctual. No employer wants to deal with a team member who’s constantly tardy. This is commonly included in most people’s resume skills, but not everyone lives up to it.

27. Patience

Things won’t always go your way. Can you calmly work through tough situations? If not, you’ll struggle with everything from sales to customer service to engineering.

28. Gratitude

When things do go your way, are you gracious? Simply being grateful can help you build real relationships.[4] This also helps foster a better team atmosphere.

29. Learning

Employers want to invest in people who are looking to grow. Whether you love to take online courses, read, or experiment with hobbies, make sure you show you’re willing to try new things.

30. Physical Capability

Many job postings have the classic line, “must be able to lift X amount of pounds” or “must be able to stand for X hours per day.” Play up past positions that required you to do physical labor.

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31. Research

How easily can you dig up new details about a concept? Research skills are critical for marketing, business analysis, writing, account management, and more.

32. Money Handling

Being able to count bills quickly and accurately is important at any company with a brick-and-mortar storefront. Integrity and honesty are key when you’re running the cash register or reconciling bank statements.

Commitment

To employers, every new hire represents an investment. Are you worth investing in? Prove it. Employers need to see signs of commitment before they bring you on board.

33. Longevity

Hiring managers love to see long tenures on your resume. This suggests that you’re in it for the long haul, not just passing through for a quick buck.

34. Fidelity

For an employer-employee relationship to work, there has to be trust. Employers tend to find out when someone is hiding side gig or sharing information they shouldn’t be. References from past employers can prove that you’re loyal to companies that hire you.

35. Obedience

You won’t agree with every choice your employer makes. With that said, you have to respect your role as an employee. Obedience is about doing what your leader decides is best, even if you have a different perspective.

36. Flexibility

Life is full of surprises. A month into your new job, your role could change entirely. Flexible people can roll with the punches.

Final Words

Perform a self-audit: Which of these skills will your potential employer want to see? Add them to your resume strategically, and you’ll be that much closer to your dream job.

Tips on How to Create a Great Resume

Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

Reference

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