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How To Reduce Your Tax When Running A Small Business

Written by Pauline Ho

Taxes can be stressful for a small business owner. You likely wear many hats and the last thing you want to do is pay more of your hard-earned business income to the government. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce your taxable liability as a business owner and keep more of that revenue for yourself.

Employ a Family Member

One of the best ways to reduce taxes for your small business is by hiring a family member. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows for a variety of options, all with the potential benefit of sheltering income from taxes. You can even hire your children, at as young as seven years old. Small business owners can reduce their taxes by hiring their children. With this strategy, business owners are able to pay a lower marginal rate, or eliminate the tax on the income paid to their children. It is important to point out earnings need to come from justifiable business purposes. Assuming you’re able to hire your child, their salary can be put in a Roth IRA for future purposes allowing you the tax benefit plus a way to provide for their future needs.

The benefit does not stop with hiring your child. The IRS also allows you to hire a spouse. Depending on the benefits they have through another job you may be able to put aside retirement savings for them, thus reducing your taxable liability.

Start a Retirement Plan

As a small business owner, you give up a 401(k) match. You may miss the free money available through the match though there are several retirement account options that maximize retirement savings and reap valuable tax benefits. For example, with the Individual 401(k), the IRS allows you to put away up to $53,000 for retirement. Some of those retirement planning vehicles are:

  • Independent 401(k)

It is important to point out, in the case of Independent 401(k)s, you must open them by December 31st to qualify for the current tax year.

Save Money for Healthcare Needs

One of the best ways to reduce small business taxes is by putting aside money for healthcare needs. Medical costs continue to increase and while you may be healthy now, saving money for unexpected or future healthcare needs is essential. You can accomplish this through a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you have an eligible high-deductible health plan.

I also encourage every business owner to explore utilizing an HSA. As medical costs rise, many businesses look to lower the costs of health insurance. By utilizing HSAs, the business and the employees can reduce taxes and potentially associated medical costs. The savings come in three key ways, otherwise known as the triple tax advantage – your contributions are pre-tax, they grow tax-free and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are tax-free.

Change Business Structure

As a small business owner, you don’t have the benefit of an employer paying a portion of your taxes. You’re on the hook for the entire amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Those amounts only increase an already high tax bill. If your business is taxed as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you still have to pay those taxes. In certain circumstances, you can eliminate the employer half of those two tax responsibilities. There are many things to consider in this switch, such as paying yourself a reasonable salary and other associated risks, but it can be a good way to reduce your taxable responsibility.

Deduct Travel Expenses

If you travel a lot for both business and pleasure, you may be able to reduce your business taxes. Business travel is fully deductible, though personal travel does not enjoy the same benefit.  There are several ways to manage travel to save on business taxes. You can combine personal travel with a justifiable business purpose. You can also use the frequent flier miles you earn for personal travel.

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About the author

Pauline Ho

Pauline Ho was born in Hong Kong and educated in Hong Kong and the United States. She is a U.S. CPA in both Florida and Washington states and a U.K. Chartered Accountant. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Hong Kong, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Andrews University of Michigan, and a master’s Degree in Accounting from University of Central Florida.