Entrepreneurs: What to know about deducting start-up expenses

Have you recently started a new business? Or are you contemplating starting one? Launching a new venture is a hectic but exciting time. And as you know, before you even open the doors, you generally have to spend a lot of money. You may have to train workers and pay for rent, utilities, marketing, and more.

Entrepreneurs are often unaware that many expenses incurred by start-ups can’t be deducted right away. You should be aware that the way you handle some of your initial expenses can make a large difference in your tax bill.

Key points on how expenses are handled

When starting or planning a new enterprise, keep these factors in mind:

  • Start-up costs include those incurred or paid while creating an active trade or business — or investigating the creation or acquisition of one.
  • Under the federal tax code, taxpayers can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs in the year the business begins. We don’t need to tell you that $5,000 doesn’t go far these days. And the $5,000 deduction is reduced dollar-for-dollar by the amount by which your total start-up or organizational costs exceed $50,000. Any remaining costs must be amortized over 180 months on a straight-line basis.
  • No deductions or amortization write-offs are allowed until the year when “active conduct” of your new business commences. That usually means the year when the enterprise has all the pieces in place to begin earning revenue. To determine if a taxpayer meets this test, the IRS and courts generally ask questions such as: Did the taxpayer undertake the activity intending to earn a profit? Was the taxpayer regularly and actively involved? Has the activity begun?

Examples of expenses

Start-up expenses generally include all expenses that are incurred to:

  • investigate the creation or acquisition of a business
  • create a business
  • engage in a for-profit activity in anticipation of that activity becoming an active business

To be eligible for the election to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up expenses in the year the business begins, an expense also must be one that would be deductible if it were incurred after a business began. One example of a “start-up expense” would be the money you spend analyzing potential markets for a new product or service.

To qualify as an “organization expense,” the outlay must be related to the creation of a corporation or partnership. Some examples of organization expenses are legal and accounting fees for services related to organizing the new business and filing fees paid to the state of incorporation.

An important decision

Time may be of the essence if you have start-up expenses that you’d like to deduct in the coming year. We would be happy to discuss the best approach for your business and how you may qualify for this election. Contact us at KraftCPAs about your business start-up plans. We can help with the tax and other aspects of your new venture.

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