A guide to tax deductions for the self-employed – WTOP News

A guide to tax deductions for the self-employed – WTOP News

Are you self-employed and wondering how to maximize your tax deductions for the 2022 tax year? Here’s a look at 15 of the best tax write-offs you don’t want to miss.

Are you self-employed and wondering how to maximize your tax deductions for the 2022 tax year? Here’s a look at 15 of the best tax write-offs you don’t want to miss:

— Qualified business income.

— Mileage or vehicle expenses.

— Retirement savings.

— Insurance premiums.

— Office supplies.

— Home office expenses.

— Credit card and loan interest.

— Phone and internet costs.

— Business meals.

— Business travel.

— Startup costs.

— Continuing education.

— Subscriptions and memberships.

— Advertising.

— Self-employment taxes.

Qualified Business Income

If you are an eligible business owner, the qualified business income deduction allows you to deduct:

— Up to 20% of your QBI — the net amount of taxable income you earn from a qualified trade or business.

— Up to 20% of qualified publicly traded partnership income and real estate investment trust dividends.

If you operate as a sole proprietor or through a partnership, S Corp, trust or estate, you may qualify. Employees and C Corp owners aren’t eligible.

Mileage and Vehicle Expenses

If you use one or more vehicles for business purposes, you may be able to deduct the costs using the standard mileage rate or actual cost method.

If you qualify for the standard mileage rate, multiply the number of miles you drove for business by the applicable rate.

“In 2022, the IRS standard mileage rate is 58.5 cents (Jan. 1-June 30) and 62.5 cents (July 1-Dec. 31),” Moira Corcoran, certified public accountant, says.

If you use the actual cost method, add up your eligible actual car expenses and deduct the total amount. Eligible expenses include licenses, depreciation, gas, lease payments, oil, tolls, parking and registration fees, insurance, tires, garage rent and repairs.

When you qualify for both methods, the IRS recommends calculating your deduction both ways to see which is larger.

[READ: 12 Tax Deductions That Have Disappeared.]

Retirement Savings

Saving for your future can also be tax deductible.

“Self-employed folks have several options for tucking money away in a tax-advantaged retirement account, including SEP IRAs, traditional IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and Solo 401(k)s,” CPA and certified financial planner Taylor Jessee, says.

“The Solo 401(k) is especially appealing because it acts very similar to a traditional 401(k) plan offered by most companies. In 2022, a self-employed person could contribute up to $61,000 to one,” he says.

Whether you can deduct your contributions, however, will depend on factors including the retirement plan type you choose, your tax filing status and income level. For example, Roth IRA contributions are not tax deductible. And although traditional IRA contributions can be deductible, income limits apply if you or your spouse are covered by an employer’s retirement plan.

Insurance Premiums

You can often deduct insurance premiums for various policy types, including but not limited to:

— Business liability insurance.

— Malpractice insurance.

— Business credit insurance.

— Business insurance against damage from fire, accidents, storms, theft, etc.

— Auto insurance for business vehicles.

— Business interruption insurance.

— Personal medical insurance.

— Personal dental insurance.

“Health insurance costs are an above-the-line deduction that affects every calculation below AGI. It’s like a supercharger for your Schedule A deductions,” Zachary B. Westwood, CFP, says.

“Also, be aware if you are on Medicare and are self-employed, you can deduct it as self-employed health insurance. Many tax preparers miss this deduction,” he says.

Office Supplies

Don’t forget about all the materials and office supplies you bought for your business throughout the year like paper, pens, printer ink and packaging supplies.

If you used them during the tax year, you can generally deduct them. If the usefulness of an item extends long after the year ends, however, you can use the depreciation method.

Home Office Expenses

If you have a dedicated workspace in your home you may be able to deduct home office expenses such as utilities, repairs, maintenance, rent and mortgage interest.

The IRS offers two calculation methods for the home office deduction:

— Simplified method: $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet.

— Regular method: An amount based on your expenses and the percentage of your home that you dedicate to business use.

Again, calculate the deduction using both methods to find out which is best for your situation.

Credit Card and Loan Interest

If you use a credit card or take out a loan for business purposes, you can often deduct the interest charges. The deduction you take, however, can’t exceed your taxable income, 30% of your adjusted taxable income or your floor plan financing interest expenses (interest charges that accrue when you purchase motor vehicles to sell or lease using a loan secured by the acquired inventory) for the year.

Phone and Internet Costs

You can deduct phone and internet expenses but only the percentage of them that you use for business. Additionally, basic local telephone service for the first phone line in your home is not deductible, even if it’s in your office.

[SEE Best Internet Service Providers]

Business Meals

For business meals to be tax deductible, the business owner or an employee must have been present for the meal and it can’t have been extravagant. If you have a meal that qualifies from 2022, you can generally deduct the full cost, including taxes and tips. The 100% deduction is an exception, however, for tax years 2021 and 2022. The typical deduction limit is 50% of the meal’s cost.

Business Travel

When traveling to another city is ordinary and necessary for your business, you may be able to deduct expenses like plane tickets, meals and lodging, as long as they aren’t outrageous. Keep in mind, however, that your work assignment must be temporary — it can’t require you to be away from your primary residence for more than a year.

Startup Costs

Did you start a new business this year and incur costs before starting operations? You can typically deduct up to $5,000 in startup costs but that limit is reduced if your expenditures exceeded $50,000. You can amortize the remaining nondeductible startup costs ratably over a 180-month period (once your business becomes active).

Continuing Education

If you’ve invested in maintaining or improving the skills you need to run your business, you may be able to deduct those education expenses. Tuition, books, supplies, transportation and more may all be deductible if you’re self-employed. The IRS provides a work-related education tool to help you figure out if your expenses qualify.

[Read: A Guide to Educational Tax Credits and Deductions.]

Subscriptions and Memberships

“If you incur expenses for subscriptions that are related to your business, such as industry magazines or online research tools, you may be able to claim a deduction for these costs,” Andrew Lokenauth, tax preparer and adjunct professor at University of San Francisco School of Management, says.

Membership dues in any club organized for business, recreation, pleasure or other social purpose, however, are not generally deductible.


Have you spent money advertising or marketing your business this year? These costs can include activities such as running ads, building a website, hiring a social media manager and taking brand photos. As long as the costs are common and necessary in your industry, you can likely deduct them.

Self-Employment Tax

One downside to being your own boss is the self-employment tax. It’s currently 15.3%, which breaks down to 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare.

The good news? You can generally deduct half of it when you calculate your adjusted gross income. While this won’t impact your net self-employment earnings or tax liability, it will reduce your income tax.

The Bottom Line on Tax Deductions

What should you keep in mind as you file taxes this year? “The general rule is that any paid expense that is ordinary and reasonable during the course of conducting a business activity is deductible in the year that it was paid (unless it applies to a future period),” Andrew Griffith, CPA, says.

“In order for a tax deduction to survive an audit by the IRS or some other income tax authority, good record-keeping and internal control practices must be maintained on an ongoing basis,” he says.

More from U.S. News

Are Medical Expenses Tax-Deductible?

What Is the Child Tax Credit?

What Is Tax Form 1099-K?

A Guide to Tax Deductions for the Self-Employed originally appeared on usnews.com

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