From the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants - Presented by Dean Knepper, CPA, CFP®


Running a successful small business takes time, talent and a little tax-know how. Here are some tax tips, brought to you by the Virginia Society of CPAs, that can prevent you from overlooking valuable deductions and assist you in managing the tax liability for your small business.

Health insurance

On 2004 tax returns, self-employed taxpayers can deduct 100 percent of their health insurance costs.

Retirement plans

The rules governing eligibility, contribution limits, and deadlines vary depending on whether you have an IRA, SEP, or Keogh. But one thing is for sure: contributing to a qualified retirement plan is a great way to reduce your tax bill and save for your future.

Business use of car

If you use your car for business, you can deduct expenses proportionate to your business use. One option is to maintain records of your actual expenses, such as gas, oil, repairs, insurance, and depreciation. Or you can use the IRS’s standard mileage rate, which is 37.5 cents per business mile for 2004. Parking and tolls are fully deductible regardless of which method you choose.

Family employees

Self-employed business owners can reduce their overall income tax liability by hiring their children to help out. For 2004, your child could have earned up to $4,850, tax-free. Hiring your child shifts income from a higher to a lower tax bracket, and the salary gets deducted as a business expense, as long as the work done by your child is bona fide.

Section 179 expensing deduction

When you buy new or used computers, copiers, software, office furniture, or other business property you can deduct 100 percent of the cost in the year it is placed in service rather than depreciating it over a number of years. For 2004, the expensing deduction is set at $102,000, (adjusted for inflation) and phases out dollar for dollar when total purchases for the year exceed $410,000.

Bonus depreciation deduction

If you purchased assets in 2004 that exceed the expensing deduction, you may be able to take a bonus first year depreciation deduction of 50 percent of the remaining costs of new property put in service before January 1, 2005. The remaining cost is subject to the regular depreciation schedule.

Travel and meal expenses

The cost of travel by plane, train or auto and your lodging is 100 percent deductible as long as the travel was related to business. You also may deduct 50 percent of the cost of your meals while traveling.

Business expenses

Ordinary and necessary business expenses can be deducted. Deductible expenses include advertising and promotion, bank service fees, office supplies, interest on business credit cards and loans, subscriptions for magazines and journals related to your profession, postage, uniforms or special work clothing, and more.

Home office

To deduct expenses related to a home office, you must prove that the home office was (1) used exclusively and on a regular basis either as a place of business to meet with clients in the normal course of business or (2) it is used for management and administrative activities of your business and you have no other fixed location where you can do a substantial amount of such administrative work.

Good records

Keeping well-organized and accurate records will simplify the task of preparing your tax return and protect your deductions should your return be subject to an audit.

Professional advice

Many small businesses pay more taxes than necessary, often as a result of missed deductions and lack of awareness about tax law changes. A CPA can help your small business make the most of all the available tax benefits.


The Virginia Society of CPAs is the leading professional association dedicated to enhancing the success of all CPAs and their profession by communicating information and vision, promoting professionalism, and advocating members’ interests. Founded in 1909, the Society has nearly 8,000 members who work in public accounting, industry, government and education. This Money Management column and other financial news articles can be found in the Press Room on the VSCPA Web site at


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