||Ask the Small Biz Adviser
Small Biz Adviser: Rules for home
Dear Small Biz Adviser:
Are pre startup costs entered into your cash
flow report? If they are entered, are they included as separate
entries and totals, or should they be included in the first year
account total? Another question: If your home-based business is
80 percent business and 20 percent your living area, is depreciation
of the building 100 percent or 80 percent?
It is that time of year when we need to think
about Uncle Sam, the IRS and preparing to submit our income tax
returns. Yours is a good inquiry from which to begin, given the
growth of home-based business and little-known facts about tax deductions.
However, I was somewhat taken back by your suggestion that 80 percent
of your home is dedicated to the business, and only 20 percent is
for personal living accommodations. Experience suggests to me the
IRS will definitely slow down when reviewing your tax returns.
For safety's sake allow me to outline some of the
basic requirements to secure deductions on a home-based business:
- The workspace must be your principal place of business.
- With exceptions, the home work place must be acceptable
to receiving clients and customers on a regular basis.
- The home office is used exclusively and regularly
for the administrative and managerial activities of your business.
- There is no other location where the administrative
and managerial activities are conducted at a level defined as
Administrative and management activities are defined
- Billing customers, clients and patients.
- Maintaining company books and records.
- Ordering supplies.
- Setting up appointments.
- Forwarding orders or writing reports.
To get the details on these and other factors regarding
the qualified definitions of a home-based business, review the IRS
Regarding depreciable expenses directed to the home,
I strongly urge that you determine the percent of the total square
footage devoted to the home-based business. In other words, if 800
square feet of the building with total square footage of 1,000 are
devoted to the business then that represents 80 percent. At that
point you can then deduct the following home expenses at the rate
of 80 percent as home-office deductions:
- Real estate taxes
- Mortgage interest
- Casualty losses
- Security systems
However, note that these expenses cannot be deducted
from business income for any period in which the home was not used
for the business. Equally important, you cannot deduct certain home
expenses if the gross income from that business is less than total
business expenses. Furthermore, there are limits on the amount of
home expenses that can be deducted.
Again, I cannot emphasize enough the need to review
And now let me address the matter of your pre startup
expenses. Those expenses are not entered into your cash flow statement.
They are expenses and flow of cash incurred prior to the startup
of the company. However, it is important to note that if the expenses
are common to the startup of your type of business venture, they
can be categorized as Organizational Expenses listed under fixed
assets on the balance sheet. Depreciation is deducted from the gross
income on your income statement, and the accumulated depreciation
is deducted from their original value on your balance sheet. With
one recent client we depreciated approximately $70,000 using straight-line
depreciation over a period of 5 years.
Finally, if you have any questions, contact the IRS.
Over the years I have encountered no foundation to the fear that
contacting the IRS can lead to problems. To the contrary, I have
found these people to be very helpful.
I wish you a happy tax season.
-- Posted: Jan. 4, 2001