By Bert Seither, small business consultant
It has become increasingly common for self-employed entrepreneurs and small business owners to be working from a home office. With more people using the Internet to conduct business and technological innovations like Skype and FaceTime for face-to-face communication purposes, more people continue to discover the benefits and financial savings of working from home. There’s also another nice advantage – the home office tax deduction.
Self-employed workers and formally established business owners have the ability to write off the use of a home office as a tax deduction. In the eyes of the IRS, home offices must be used for conducting business activities. Even though “home” is part of this term, this write-off is applicable to any kind of residence, such as a studio apartment or a mobile home. As such, it can be claimed by both homeowners and renters.
In Basic terms, the amount you can deduct depends on the percentage of your actual residence that you utilize for business reasons. If the gross income you make from your business is less than your total amount of business expenses, your deduction will be limited. The costs you can claim for it may include mortgage interest, insurance, rent, power, depreciation, and even Internet access when you surf the web for your business.
There are several factors taken into account in terms of how a whole room or part of a home can be deducted as one of your business expenses. Firstly, this area must be your principal place of business or a space used for dealing with clients, customers, or patients. It is also possible to have a separate building or structure that is part of your home, but it doesn’t have to be attached to it. Such a place can be considered part of your home office if you use it for business purposes. If you operate a daycare center out of a home, you can also claim it as a deduction, even if the area used for the daycare is also utilized for non-business purposes during off-hours.
For tax year 2013, the IRS introduced a simpler alternative option to handle the home office deduction. Self-employed individuals and business owners who do some work at home can claim a flat-rate deduction of $5 per square foot for a maximum of 300 square feet. There is a limit to this, however, as the maximum deductible amount is $1,500 when opting for this method.
With two home office deduction options available to eligible taxpayers, it’s essential to determine which option is best for your situation to take to maximize your write-off. The traditional method of calculation tends to involve a substantial amount of recordkeeping and documentation of expenses, which is why the IRS introduced the newer flat-rate option. On the other hand, this flat-rate method may not be as beneficial to those who live in areas where the cost of living is significantly higher. That is why it’s important to proceed carefully when claiming this tax deduction.
On the whole, it is highly recommended that you research all potential tax deductions you may qualify for, especially if you are one of the numerous small business owners who are constantly looking for ways to save money. Deductions are designed to reduce your IRS tax liability and keep more money in your bank account.
About the author: Bert Seither is a longtime small business consultant. He has assisted thousands of small business owners to find a path to entrepreneurial prosperity in his 10+ years of experience. Learn more at www.bertseither.net.