If you’re self-employed. You may be eligible for a variety of tax deductions designed to reduce your tax burden. Overlooking these deductions means potentially paying more in taxes than necessary. Something that isn’t ideal for anyone. If you want to make sure you get every deduction you’re eligible to snag. Here are some work from home tax deductions that you should take advantage of if you qualify for them.
If you have either a separate home office or a designated spot in your home where you work. You may be eligible for a home office deduction. The IRS does require that the space be used “exclusively and regularly” for work. Though, for many self-employed professionals who mainly handle computer-based tasks. This requirement is often fairly simple to meet.
With this deduction, you have two potential approaches. If you’re looking for the easiest option, go simplified. With that, self-employed individuals have the ability to deduct $5 per square foot of office space, up to a total of 300 square feet.
If you aren’t afraid of handling some calculations. You can use the regular method. With that, you can calculate the percentage of your home that you are using for work only. Then, apply that percentage to eligible housing related costs. Which allows you to determine what portion of the allowable expenses are deductible.
In many cases, it’s wise to run both options to determine which approach results in the largest deduction. Just make sure that you handle the calculations carefully to ensure accuracy when you go through the more complex method.
If you’re self-employed, bought your own medical coverage, and aren’t eligible for coverage through a spouse’s employer, you may be able to deduct the cost of your premiums. Technically, this isn’t a deduction. Instead, it’s an income reduction, so you don’t necessarily have to itemize to claim this benefit.
If you drive your car as part of your self-employment business, you may be eligible for vehicle expense tax deductions. Usually, you’ll get a specific amount per mile driven, allowing you to recoup some of the financial loss related to greater wear and tear on your car.
Claiming this deduction does require an accurate log of your miles traveled for business purposes. However, it can be substantial, so it’s worth keeping those records to reduce your tax burden.
Plus, there are also potentially deductible vehicle costs. For example, gas, parking fees, tolls, repairs, and similar expenses related to business-connected travel may be claimable.
While it may seem odd, it is possible to snag a tax deduction for paying self-employment tax. Self-employment tax is the Social Security and Medicare tax that people who are self-employed have to pay and comes in at a rate of around 15.3 percent.
With traditional employment, the employer and employee split that tax burden. If you’re self-employed, you have to pay it all. But you also get to deduct half of the amount you pay when you file your taxes, helping you to reduce some of that burden.
Internet and Phone
If you use your home internet for work or have a separate phone for business purposes, you can deduct the portion of your bill that aligns with your business use. For example, if half of your internet time is work-related, half of your internet bill can be a deductible expense. If you have a separate phone line for business calls that is only used for that purpose, that is 100 percent deductible.
Trade Publications, Memberships, or Subscriptions
Self-employed individuals who pay for specialty publications, memberships, or subscriptions that directly align with their work can deduct the cost as a business expense. The most critical part of the equation is that the content is specialized. For example, a trade magazine counts, while a national newspaper does not, as the latter is too general to be profession-specific.
Educational expenses related to honing work skills in your current self-employment field can be deductible. The course or skill has to connect to your existing business, not something you hope to do later or anything you do for personal growth. For example, a self-employed web developer can deduct the cost of a course on responsive design but wouldn’t be able to take the deduction for a yoga class or music theory course.
If you spend money to advertise your business, that cost is deductible. This can include any kind of paid-for ad, including Facebook or Google ads, television commercials, bench ads, or mailed flyers.
In most cases, business insurance premiums are deductible. There are some nondeductible premiums, though, so it’s wise to review IRS guidance to determine which ones you can use to reduce your tax burden.
Office Equipment and Supplies
In many cases, office equipment or supplies that you purchase to use for your self-employed business can reduce your tax burden. The value of the items may determine what kind of deduction or benefit you receive, as high-cost items like computers may be treated differently than pens and paper.
Credit Card and Loan Interest
If you paid interest on a business purchase because you used a credit card or loan to cover the cost, you might be able to deduct the interest. The card or loan doesn’t necessarily have to be a business one. However, you usually need to use that card or loan solely for business purposes to claim the deduction cleanly.
Travel (Including Meals)
If you’re gone on business, some of your travel-related costs are deductible. Plane tickets, hotel stays, Uber rides, and similar expenses that you incur while away from home handling a work-related activity can potentially qualify. Similarly, certain meal-related costs may be deductible, including if you take a client out for dinner or have to pay for meals because you are on the road.
If you have a self-employed retirement plan – like an SEP IRA, Solo 401(k), or SIMPLE IRA – you can potentially deduct the contributions. This can be a boon if you save up to the contribution limit, though it does make a difference even if you are setting aside less than that each year.
Qualified Business Income
A newer self-employed tax deduction, the qualified business income deduction allows self-employed individuals – as well as some small business owners – to deduct part of their business income when they file their taxes. Your total taxable income from all sources does have to be below a set threshold to qualify. But if it is, you may be able to deduct 20 percent of your taxable business income.
Do you know of any other work from home tax deductions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.